Obesity promotes lipid accumulation in mouse cartilage-A potential role of acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC) mediated chondrocyte de novo lipogenesis

J Orthop Res. 2022 Dec;40(12):2771-2779. doi: 10.1002/jor.25322. Epub 2022 Mar 12.


Obesity promotes the development of osteoarthritis (OA). It is also well-established that obesity leads to excessive lipid deposition in nonadipose tissues, which often induces lipotoxicity. The objective of this study was to investigate changes in the levels of various lipids in mouse cartilage in the context of obesity and determine if chondrocyte de novo lipogenesis is altered. We used Oil Red O to determine the accumulation of lipid droplets in cartilage from mice fed high-fat diet (HFD) or low-fat diet (LFD). We further used mass spectrometry-based lipidomic analyses to quantify levels of different lipid species. Expression of genes involving in fatty acid (FA) uptake, synthesis, elongation, and desaturation were examined using quantitative polymerase chain reaction. To further study the potential mechanisms, we cultured primary mouse chondrocytes under high-glucose and high-insulin conditions to mimic the local microenvironment associated with obesity and subsequently examined the abundance of cellular lipid droplets. The acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC) inhibitor, ND-630, was added to the culture medium to examine the effect of inhibiting de novo lipogenesis on lipid accumulation in chondrocytes. When compared to the mice receiving LFD, the HFD group displayed more chondrocytes with visible intracellular lipid droplets. Significantly higher amounts of total FAs were also detected in the HFD group. Five out of six significantly upregulated FAs were ω-6 FAs, while the two significantly downregulated FAs were ω-3 FAs. Consequently, the HFD group displayed a significantly higher ω-6/ω-3 FA ratio. Ether linked phosphatidylcholine was also found to be higher in the HFD group. Fatty acid desaturase (Fad1-3), fatty acid-binding protein 4 (Fabp4), and fatty acid synthase (Fasn) transcripts were not found to be different between the treatment groups and fatty acid elongase (Elovl1-7) transcripts were undetectable in cartilage. Ceramide synthase 2 (Cers-2), the only transcript found to be changed in these studies, was significantly upregulated in the HFD group. In vitro, chondrocytes upregulated de novo lipogenesis when cultured under high-glucose, high-insulin conditions, and this observation was associated with the activation of ACC, which was attenuated by the addition of ND-630. This study provides the first evidence that lipid deposition is increased in cartilage with obesity and that this is associated with the upregulation of ACC-mediated de novo lipogenesis. This was supported by our observation that ACC inhibition ameliorated lipid accumulation in chondrocytes, thereby suggesting that ACC could potentially be targeted to treat obesity-associated OA.

Keywords: acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC); cartilage; fatty acid; lipid; obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetyl-CoA Carboxylase / genetics
  • Acetyl-CoA Carboxylase / metabolism
  • Acetyl-CoA Carboxylase / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Chondrocytes / metabolism
  • Diet, High-Fat / adverse effects
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3*
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Insulins* / metabolism
  • Insulins* / pharmacology
  • Lipogenesis / genetics
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / metabolism


  • Acetyl-CoA Carboxylase
  • ND-630
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Glucose
  • Insulins