Coffee Bioactive N-Methylpyridinium Attenuates Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF)-α-Mediated Insulin Resistance and Inflammation in Human Adipocytes

Biomolecules. 2021 Oct 19;11(10):1545. doi: 10.3390/biom11101545.


Although coffee consumption has been historically associated with negative health outcomes, recent evidence suggests a lower risk of metabolic syndrome, obesity and diabetes among regular coffee drinkers. Among the plethora of minor organic compounds assessed as potential mediators of coffee health benefits, trigonelline and its pyrolysis product N-methylpyridinium (NMP) were preliminary shown to promote glucose uptake and exert anti-adipogenic properties. Against this background, we aimed at characterizing the effects of trigonelline and NMP in inflamed and dysfunctional human adipocytes. Human Simpson-Golabi-Behmel syndrome (SGBS) adipocytes were treated with NMP or, for comparison, trigonelline, for 5 h before stimulation with tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α. NMP at concentrations as low as 1 µmol/L reduced the stimulated expression of several pro-inflammatory mediators, including C-C Motif chemokine ligand (CCL)-2, C-X-C Motif chemokine ligand (CXCL)-10, and intercellular adhesion Molecule (ICAM)-1, but left the induction of prostaglandin G/H synthase (PTGS)2, interleukin (IL)-1β, and colony stimulating factor (CSF)1 unaffected. Furthermore, NMP restored the downregulated expression of adiponectin (ADIPOQ). These effects were functionally associated with downregulation of the adhesion of monocytes to inflamed adipocytes. Under the same conditions, NMP also reversed the TNF-α-mediated suppression of insulin-stimulated Ser473 Akt phosphorylation and attenuated the induction of TNF-α-stimulated lipolysis restoring cell fat content. In an attempt to preliminarily explore the underlying mechanisms of its action, we show that NMP restores the expression of the master regulator of adipocyte differentiation peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)γ and downregulates activation of the pro-inflammatory mitogen-activated protein jun N-terminal kinase (JNK). In conclusion, NMP reduces adipose dysfunction in pro-inflammatory activated adipocytes. These data suggest that bioactive NMP in coffee may improve the inflammatory and dysmetabolic milieu associated with obesity.

Keywords: N-methylpyridinium; adipocytes; coffee bioactives; inflammation; insulin resistance.

MeSH terms

  • 3T3-L1 Cells
  • Adipocytes / drug effects
  • Adipocytes / metabolism*
  • Adipogenesis / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Coffee / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / diet therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus / genetics
  • Diabetes Mellitus / pathology
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / diet therapy
  • Inflammation / genetics
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Insulin / genetics
  • Insulin Resistance / genetics*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / diet therapy
  • Metabolic Syndrome / genetics
  • Metabolic Syndrome / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Obesity / diet therapy
  • Obesity / genetics
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Pyridinium Compounds / pharmacology*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / genetics*


  • Coffee
  • Insulin
  • Pyridinium Compounds
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • 1-methylpyridinium
  • Glucose