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Jana Ernst, Urszula Grabiec, Kathrin Falk, Faramarz Dehghani, and Kristina Schaedlich

Studies of the last decade associated the environmental contamination by di-(2-ethylhexyl)-phthalate (DEHP) with obesity and endocrine malfunction. DEHP was found to interact with several receptors – among them are receptors of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) with high expression levels in adipose tissue. Furthermore, the correlation for BMI and body fat to the serum endocannabinoid level raises the question if the obesogenic and endocrine-disrupting DEHP effects are mediated via the ECS. We therefore characterized the ECS in a human cell model of adipogenesis using the SGBS preadipocytes to subsequently investigate if DEHP exposure affects the intrinsic ECS. The receptors of the ECS and the endocannabinoid-metabolizing enzymes were upregulated during normal adipogenesis, accompanied by an increasing secretion of the adipokines adiponectin and leptin. DEHP affected the secretion of both adipokines but not the ECS, suggesting DEHP to alter the endocrine function of adipocytes without the involvement of the intrinsic ECS.

Open access

Jana Ernst, Katharina Gert, Frank Bernhard Kraus, Ulrike Elisabeth Rolle-Kampczyk, Martin Wabitsch, Faramarz Dehghani, and Kristina Schaedlich

The rapid increase of obesity during the last decades and its future prospects are alarming. Besides the general discussed causes of obesity, the ‘Developmental Origins of Health and Disease’ (DOHaD) hypothesis received more attention in recent years. This hypothesis postulates an adverse influence during early development that programs the unborn child for metabolic dysfunctions later in life. Childhood obesity – an as much increasing problem – can be predisposed by maternal overweight and diabetes. Both, obesity and hyperinsulinemia are major causes of female hyperandrogenemia. As predicted by the DOHaD hypothesis and shown in animal models, developmental androgen excess can lead to metabolic abnormalities in offspring. In this study, we investigated, if androgen exposure adversely affects the adipogenic differentiation of preadipocytes and the endocrine function of adult adipocytes. The human SGBS preadipocyte model was used to affirm the de novo biosynthesis of steroid hormones under normal adipogenesis conditions. Normal adipogenesis was paralleled by an increase of corticosteroids and androgens, whereas estrogen remained at a steady level. Treatment with androstenedione had no effect on SGBS proliferation and differentiation, but adult adipocytes exhibited a significant higher accumulation of triglycerides. Progesterone (up to 2-fold), testosterone (up to 38-fold) and cortisone (up to 1.4-fold) – but not cortisol – were elevated by androstenedione administration in adult adipocytes. Estrogen was not altered. Data suggest that androgen does not negatively influence adipogenic differentiation, but steroidogenic function of SGBS adipocytes.