Obesity III: Obesogen assays: Limitations, strengths, and new directions

Biochem Pharmacol. 2022 May:199:115014. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2022.115014. Epub 2022 Apr 5.


There is increasing evidence of a role for environmental contaminants in disrupting metabolic health in both humans and animals. Despite a growing need for well-understood models for evaluating adipogenic and potential obesogenic contaminants, there has been a reliance on decades-old in vitro models that have not been appropriately managed by cell line providers. There has been a quick rise in available in vitro models in the last ten years, including commercial availability of human mesenchymal stem cell and preadipocyte models; these models require more comprehensive validation but demonstrate real promise in improved translation to human metabolic health. There is also progress in developing three-dimensional and co-culture techniques that allow for the interrogation of a more physiologically relevant state. While diverse rodent models exist for evaluating putative obesogenic and/or adipogenic chemicals in a physiologically relevant context, increasing capabilities have been identified for alternative model organisms such as Drosophila, C. elegans, zebrafish, and medaka in metabolic health testing. These models have several appreciable advantages, including most notably their size, rapid development, large brood sizes, and ease of high-resolution lipid accumulation imaging throughout the organisms. They are anticipated to expand the capabilities of metabolic health research, particularly when coupled with emerging obesogen evaluation techniques as described herein.

Keywords: 3T3-L1; Adipogenesis; Mesenchymal stem cells; Obesity; Zebrafish.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • 3T3-L1 Cells
  • Adipocytes* / metabolism
  • Adipogenesis
  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Mice
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Zebrafish*