Journal of Physiology and Biochemistry

, Volume 72, Issue 2, pp 145–155 | Cite as

Melatonin attenuated adipogenesis through reduction of the CCAAT/enhancer binding protein beta by regulating the glycogen synthase 3 beta in human mesenchymal stem cells

  • Yun-Hee Rhee
  • Jin-Chul Ahn
Original Paper


Adipogenic differentiation is characterized by an increase in two major transcription factors: peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ) and the CCAAT/enhancer binding protein alpha (C/EBPα). These two signals are influenced by C/EBPβ and C/EBPδ and cross-regulate each other’s expression during the initial stages of adipogenesis. Melatonin has been known to act as not only a direct scavenger of free radicals but also an inhibitor of glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK-3β). Here, we report that melatonin inhibits the adipogenic differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) which is due to the regulations of C/EBPβ in the early stage of adipogenic differentiation. Melatonin reduced the lipid accumulation, adiponectin, and lipoprotein lipase (LPL) during the adipogenic differentiation of hMSCs. Since C/EBPβ has been associated with the activation of PPARγ and the consensus site of ERK/GSK-3β, PPARγ and β-catenin were detected by immunofluorescence staining after pretreatment of melatonin. Melatonin blocked the activation of PPARγ which induced the degradation of β-catenin. Melatonin also decreased the levels of cyclic adenosine-3,5-monophosphate (cAMP) and reactive oxygen species (ROS). The cAMP triggered the activity of C/EBPβ which is a critical inducer of PPARγ and C/EBPα activation in the early stage of adipogenic differentiation, and this is further affected by ROS production. The adipogenic marker proteins such as PPARγ, C/EBPα, C/EBPβ, and pERK were also decreased by melatonin. In summary, melatonin inhibited the cAMP synthesis through ROS reduction and the phosphorylation of the ERK/GSK-3β site which is known to be responsible for C/EBPβ activation for adipogenic differentiation in hMSCs.


Adipogenesis hMSC Melatonin C/EBPβ ROS GSK3β/ERK 



This research was supported by Basic Science Research Program (20110022515), Leading Foreign Research Institute Recruitment Program (2012K1A4A3053142) through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF), and Functional Districts of the Science Belt support program funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP) .


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Copyright information

© University of Navarra 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Beckman Laser Institute KoreaDankook UniversityCheonanRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.Department of Biomedical Science, College of MedicineDankook UniversityCheonanRepublic of Korea
  3. 3.Institute of Biomedical Translational ResearchDankook UniversityCheonanRepublic of Korea

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