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Int J Clin Exp Pathol 2013;6(2):168-178

Original Article
α-Naphthoflavone inhibits 3T3-L1 pre-adipocytes differentiation via modulating p38MAPK

Qiqiang He*,Caixuan Huang*, Lihua Zhao, Jing Feng, Qun Shi, Dengshun Wang, Suqing Wang

Department of Nutrition and Food Hygiene, School of Public Health, Wuhan University, Wuhan, Hubei 430071,
China; Eye Center of Renmin Hospital, Wuhan University, Wuhan, Hubei, 430060, China; Department of Pathology
and Lab Medicine, University of Wisconsin at Madison, WI 53706, USA. *These authors have contributed
equally to the work.

Received November 9, 2012; Accepted December 3, 2012; Epub January 15, 2013; Published February 1, 2013

Abstract: α-Naphthoflavone (α-NF) is a synthetic flavonone derivative and is well known as a potent inhibitor of aromatase
in a variety of systems. However, its role in lipid metabolism remains far from understood. The aim of current
study was to investigate the effects of α-NF on 3T3-L1 pre-adipocytes differentiation and the mechanism through
which it acts. Treatment of 3T3-L1 cells with α-NF in conjunction with a hormone cocktail resulted in α-NF mediated
suppression of adipocyte differentiation in a dose dependent manner. At the molecular level, our findings demonstrated
that α-NF inhibited the mid and late phase, but not the early phase of adipogenic markers expression during
3T3-L1 adipogenesis. The phosphorylation of p38 was activated upon adipogenic stimulation, yet was substantially
suppressed by α-NF treatment. α-NF also synergistically inhibited expression of the adipogenic marker peroxisome
proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ) expression together with p38 selective inhibitor, SB203580. Our
study demonstrated for the first time that α-NF is capable of suppressing 3T3-L1 adipocyte differentiation and that
this effect likely occurs through repression of the p38MAPK signaling pathway. (IJCPE1211009).

Keywords: α-Naphthoflavone, adipogenesis, PPARγ, p38MAPK

Address all correspondence to:
Dr. Suqing Wang
Department of Nutrition and Food Hygiene,
School of Public Health, Wuhan University
115 Donghu Rd, Wuhan, Hubei, 430071, China.
Tel: (86)27-68759972; Fax: (86) 27-68758648
E-mail: swang2099@whu.edu.cn