Artemisinin derivatives could inhibit adipogenic differentiation of 3T3-L1 preadipocytes and prevent obesity in mice. However, the molecular mechanism remains largely unclear. Our research was designed to investigate the specific molecular target of artemisinin derivatives in adipogenic differentiation of 3T3-L1 preadipocytes. Here, we revealed that in response to dihydroartemisinin (DHA) or artesunate (ATS), intracellular lipid was decreased in a concentration dependent manner as shown by BODIPY staining. Quantitative PCR analysis showed that expression of Cebpa, Pparg, Fabp4 and Plin was significantly decreased by DHA treatment in a concentration and time dependent manner. Also, DHA treatment remarkably downregulated expression of CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein α (C/EBPα) and nuclear receptor peroxisome proliferation-activated receptor γ (PPARγ) of adipogenic induced 3T3-L1 cells as assayed by western blotting. RNA-seq analysis identified thousands of differential expression genes (DEGs), among which CHOP expression was significantly improved in DHA treated cells. Upregulation of CHOP was verified by quantitative PCR and western blotting, respectively. Knockdown of CHOP by the specific shRNA revealed that the inhibition of adipogenesis by DHA was strongly blocked, resulting in restored lipid accumulation and expression of adipogenic molecules. In conclusions, the inhibitory effect of DHA on adipogenic differentiation of 3T3-L1 preadipocytes was exerted in a concentration and time dependent manner, which was mediated by expression of CHOP.
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