Synthesis and biological evaluations of marine oxohexadecenoic acids: PPARα/γ dual agonism and anti-diabetic target gene effects

Eur J Med Chem. 2018 Jul 15;155:736-753. doi: 10.1016/j.ejmech.2018.06.034. Epub 2018 Jun 18.


Obesity and associated disorders such as metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes (T2D) have reached epidemic proportions. Several natural products have been reported as Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor (PPAR) agonists, functioning as lead compounds towards developing new anti-diabetic drugs due to adverse side effects of existing PPAR drugs. We recently isolated and identified (7E)-9-oxohexadec-7-enoic acid (1) and (10E)-9-oxohexadec-10-enoic acid (2) from the marine algae Chaetoceros karianus. Herein we report the total synthesis, pharmacological characterization, and biological evaluations of these naturally occurring oxo-fatty acids (oFAs). The syntheses of 1 and 2 afforded sufficient material for extensive biological evaluations. Both oFAs show an appreciable dose-dependent activation of PPARα and -γ, with EC50 values in the micromolar range, and an ability to regulate important PPAR target genes in hepatocytes and adipocytes. Moreover, both 1 and 2 are able to drive adipogenesis when evaluated in the Simpson-Golabi-Behmel syndrome (SGBS) pre-adipocyte cell model, but with lowered expression of adipocyte markers and reduced lipid accumulation compared to the drug rosiglitazone. This seems to be caused by a transient upregulation of PPARγ and C/EBPα expression. Importantly, whole transcriptome analysis shows that both compounds induce anti-diabetic gene programs in adipocytes by upregulating insulin-sensitizing adipokines and repressing pro-inflammatory cytokines.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • COS Cells
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / genetics
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / chemical synthesis
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / chemistry
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Keto Acids / chemical synthesis
  • Keto Acids / chemistry
  • Keto Acids / pharmacology*
  • Microalgae / chemistry*
  • Molecular Structure
  • PPAR alpha / agonists*
  • PPAR alpha / genetics
  • PPAR gamma / agonists*
  • PPAR gamma / genetics
  • Palmitic Acids / chemical synthesis
  • Palmitic Acids / chemistry
  • Palmitic Acids / pharmacology*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Keto Acids
  • PPAR alpha
  • PPAR gamma
  • Palmitic Acids