Department of Public Health (Suzuki Lab.)

FASEB J (2010) 24; 2375-2384.
Oxidative stress accelerates adipocyte differentiation and lipid accumulation, leading to endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, which causes insulin resistance. Because metallothionein (MT) has a role in prevention of oxidative and ER stress, we examined the effects of MT on the development of obesity induced by 27 wk of a high-fat diet (HFD) in female MT-I- and MT-II-null (MT(-/-)) and wild-type (MT(+/+)) mice. Body weight, fat mass, and plasma cholesterol increased at a greater rate in MT(-/-) mice fed an HFD than in MT(-/-) mice fed a control diet (CD) and MT(+/+) mice fed an HFD, indicating that MT(-/-) mice fed an HFD became obese and hypercholesterolemic and that MT could prevent HFD-induced obesity. The observed increases in the levels of plasma leptin and leptin mRNA in the white adipose tissue of MT(-/-) mice fed the HFD suggested a leptin-resistant state. Enhanced expression of a mesoderm-specific transcript, which regulates the enlargement of fat cells, was accompanied by enlarged adipocytes in the white adipose tissue of young MT(-/-) mice before obesity developed after 3 and 8 wk of feeding the HFD. Thus, MT may have a preventive role against HFD-induced obesity by regulating adipocyte enlargement and leptin signaling.