Adipose-specific pparα knockout mice have increased lipogenesis by pask–srebp1 signaling and a polarity shift to inflammatory macrophages in white adipose tissue

Terry D. Hinds, Zachary A. Kipp, Mei Xu, Frederique B. Yiannikouris, Andrew J. Morris, Donald F. Stec, Walter Wahli, David E. Stec

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The nuclear receptor PPARα is associated with reducing adiposity, especially in the liver, where it transactivates genes for β-oxidation. Contrarily, the function of PPARα in extrahepatic tissues is less known. Therefore, we established the first adipose-specific PPARα knockout (PparaFatKO) mice to determine the signaling position of PPARα in adipose tissue expansion that occurs during the development of obesity. To assess the function of PPARα in adiposity, female and male mice were placed on a high-fat diet (HFD) or normal chow for 30 weeks. Only the male PparaFatKO animals had significantly more adiposity in the inguinal white adipose tissue (iWAT) and brown adipose tissue (BAT) with HFD, compared to control littermates. No changes in adiposity were observed in female mice compared to control littermates. In the males, the loss of PPARα signaling in adipocytes caused significantly higher cholesterol esters, activation of the transcription factor sterol regulatory element-binding protein-1 (SREBP-1), and a shift in macrophage polarity from M2 to M1 macrophages. We found that the loss of adipocyte PPARα caused significantly higher expression of the Per-Arnt-Sim kinase (PASK), a kinase that activates SREBP-1. The hyperactivity of the PASK– SREBP-1 axis significantly increased the lipogenesis proteins fatty acid synthase (FAS) and stearoyl-Coenzyme A desaturase 1 (SCD1) and raised the expression of genes for cholesterol metabolism (Scarb1, Abcg1, and Abca1). The loss of adipocyte PPARα increased Nos2 in the males, an M1 macrophage marker indicating that the population of macrophages had changed to proinflammatory. Our results demonstrate the first adipose-specific actions for PPARα in protecting against lipogenesis, inflammation, and cholesterol ester accumulation that leads to adipocyte tissue expansion in obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health 1R01DK121797-01A1 (T.D.H.J.) and 1R01DK126884-01A1 (D.E.S.), the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute K01HL-125445 (T.D.H.J.) and P01 HL05197-11 (D.E.S.), and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences P20GM104357-02 (D.E.S.). The lipidomics analysis was supported by COBRE grant (P30 GM127211) at the University of Kentucky. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Adipocyte
  • Adipogenesis
  • Cholesterol esters
  • FAS
  • Fatty acid synthase
  • Inflammation
  • Lipid signaling
  • Obesity
  • SCD1
  • Sexual dimorphism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (all)


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