Microarray Analysis Reveals Altered Lipid and Glucose Metabolism Genes in Differentiated, Ritonavir-Treated 3T3-L1 Adipocytes

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OBJECTIVE: HIV lipodystrophy is characterised by abnormal adipose tissue distribution and metabolism, as a result of altered adipocyte function and gene expression. The protease inhibitor ritonavir is associated with the development of lipodystrophy. Quantifying changes in adipogenic gene expression in the presence of ritonavir may help to identify therapeutic targets for HIV lipodystrophy.

METHODS: Affymetrix Mouse Genome 430 2.0 oligonucleotide microarray was used to investigate gene expression in 3T3-L1 adipocytes treated with 20 µmol/l ritonavir or vehicle control (ethanol). Pparg, Adipoq, Retn and Il6 expression were validated by real time RT-PCR. Transcriptional signalling through PPAR-γ was investigated using a DNA-binding ELISA. Changes in adipocyte function were investigated through secreted adiponectin quantification using ELISA and Oil Red O staining for triglyceride storage.

RESULTS: Expression of 389 genes was altered by more than 5-fold in the presence of ritonavir (all P < 0.001). Gene ontology analysis revealed down-regulation of genes responsible for adipocyte triglyceride accumulation including complement factor D (Cfd; 238.42-fold), Cidec (73.75-fold) and Pparg (5.63-fold). Glucose transport genes were also down-regulated including Adipoq (24.42-fold) and Glut4 (13.36-fold), while Il6 was up-regulated (10.39-fold). PPAR-γ regulatory genes Cebpa (11.33-fold) and liver-X-receptor α (Nr1h3) were down-regulated. Changes in Pparg, Adipoq and Il6 were confirmed by RT-PCR. PPAR-γ binding to its nuclear consensus site, adiponectin secretion and triglyceride accumulation were all reduced by ritonavir.

CONCLUSION: Ritonavir had a significant effect on expression of genes involved in adipocyte differentiation, lipid accumulation and glucose metabolism. Down-regulation of Pparg may be mediated by changes in Cebpa, Lcn2 and Nr1h3.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-46
Number of pages10
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016


  • Adipocytes
  • Adipogenesis
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Glucose
  • HIV Protease Inhibitors
  • HIV-Associated Lipodystrophy Syndrome
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Microarray Analysis
  • Ritonavir


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