Background: Obesity alters adipose tissue metabolic and endocrine functioning, leading to an increased adiposity and release of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Various phytochemicals have been reported to contribute to the beiging of white adipose tissue in order to ameliorate obesity by increasing thermogenesis. Here, we show that the prenylated chalcone, xanthohumol (XN), induces beiging of white adipocytes, stimulates lipolysis, and inhibits adipogenesis of murine 3T3-L1 adipocytes and primary human subcutaneous preadipocytes and these effects are partly mediated by the activation of the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) signaling pathway.
Methods: 3T3-L1 adipocytes and primary human subcutaneous preadipocytes were differentiated using a standard protocol and were treated with various concentrations of XN, dorsomorphin, an AMPK inhibitor, or AICAR, an AMPK activator, to investigate the effects on adipogenesis, beiging and lipolysis.
Results: XN induced beiging of white adipocytes as witnessed by the increased expression of beige markers CIDE-A and TBX-1. XN increased mitochondrial biogenesis, as evidenced by increased mitochondrial content, enhanced expression of PGC-1α, and the thermogenic protein UCP1. Following 24 h of treatment, XN also increased oxygen consumption rate. XN stimulated lipolysis of mature 3T3-L1 and primary human subcutaneous adipocytes and inhibited adipogenesis of maturing adipocytes. XN activated AMPK and in turn, XN-induced upregulation of UCP1, p-ACC, HSL, and ATGL was downregulated in the presence of dorsomorphin. Likewise, an XN-induced decrease in adipogenesis was reversed in the presence of dorsomorphin.
Conclusions: Taken together, XN demonstrates anti-obesity effects by not only inducing beiging but also decreasing adipogenesis and inducing lipolysis. The anti-obesity effects of XN are partly mediated by AMPK signaling pathway suggesting that XN may have potential therapeutic implications for obesity.
Keywords: 3T3-L1 cells; ACC; AMPK signaling; Beiging; Human primary subcutaneous adipocytes; Lipolysis; Obesity; Oxygen consumption rate; Thermogenesis; UCP1; Xanthohumol.