Interferon γ attenuates insulin signaling, lipid storage, and differentiation in human adipocytes via activation of the JAK/STAT pathway

Fiona C. McGillicuddy, Elise H. Chiquoine, Christine C. Hinkle, Roy J. Kim, Rachana Shah, Helen M. Roche, Emer M. Smyth, Muredach P. Reilly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

179 Scopus citations


Recent reports demonstrate T-cell infiltration of adipose tissue in early obesity. We hypothesized that interferon (IFN) γ, a major T-cell inflammatory cytokine, would attenuate human adipocyte functions and sought to establish signaling mechanisms. Differentiated human adipocytes were treated with IFNγ ± pharmacological inhibitors prior to insulin stimulation. [3H]Glucose uptake and AKT phosphorylation were assessed as markers of insulin sensitivity. IFNγ induced sustained loss of insulin-stimulated glucose uptake in human adipocytes, coincident with reduced Akt phosphorylation and down-regulation of the insulin receptor, insulin receptor substrate-1, and GLUT4. Loss of adipocyte triglyceride storage was observed with IFNγ co-incident with reduced expression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ, adiponectin, perilipin, fatty acid synthase, and lipoprotein lipase. Treatment with IFNγ also blocked differentiation of pre-adipocytes to the mature phenotype. IFNγ-induced robust STAT1 phosphorylation and SOCS1 mRNA expression, with modest, transient STAT3 phosphorylation and SOCS3 induction. Preincubation with a non-selective JAK inhibitor restored glucose uptake and Akt phosphorylation while completely reversing IFNγ suppression of adipogenic mRNAs and adipocyte differentiation. Specific inhibition of JAK2 or JAK3 failed to block IFNγ effects suggesting a predominant role for JAK1-STAT1. We demonstrate that IFNγ attenuates insulin sensitivity and suppresses differentiation in human adipocytes, an effect most likely mediated via sustained JAK-STAT1 pathway activation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31936-31944
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number46
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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