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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.