Tributyltin induces a transcriptional response without a brite adipocyte signature in adipocyte models Academic Article uri icon


  • Tributyltin (TBT), a peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ)/retinoid X receptor (RXR) ligand and founding member of the environmental obesogen chemical class, induces adipocyte differentiation and suppresses bone formation. A growing number of environmental PPARγ ligands are being identified. However, the potential for environmental PPARγ ligands to induce adverse metabolic effects has been questioned because PPARγ is a therapeutic target in treatment of type II diabetes. We evaluated the molecular consequences of TBT exposure during bone marrow multipotent mesenchymal stromal cell (BM-MSC) differentiation in comparison to rosiglitazone, a therapeutic PPARγ ligand, and LG100268, a synthetic RXR ligand. Mouse primary BM-MSCs (female, C57BL/6J) undergoing bone differentiation were exposed to maximally efficacious and human relevant concentrations of rosiglitazone (100 nM), LG100268 (100 nM) or TBT (80 nM) for 4 days. Gene expression was assessed using microarrays, and in silico functional annotation was performed using pathway enrichment analysis approaches. Pathways related to osteogenesis were downregulated by all three ligands, while pathways related to adipogenesis were upregulated by rosiglitazone and TBT. However, pathways related to mitochondrial biogenesis and brown-in-white (brite) adipocyte differentiation were more significantly upregulated in rosiglitazone-treated than TBT-treated cells. The lack of induction of genes involved in adipocyte energy dissipation by TBT was confirmed by an independent gene expression analysis in BM-MSCs undergoing adipocyte differentiation and by analysis of a publically available 3T3 L1 data set. Furthermore, rosiglitazone, but not TBT, induced mitochondrial biogenesis and respiration. This study is the first to show that an environmental PPARγ ligand has a limited capacity to induce health-promoting activities of PPARγ.


  • Kim, S
  • Li, Amy
  • Monti, S
  • Schlezinger, JJ

publication date

  • 2018