Cultured TA1 adipocytes treated with tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF) lose intracytoplasmic lipid and, over a period of days, come to resemble their predifferentiated progenitors (preadipocytes). To examine the extent to which this phenotypic reversion represents a return to a less differentiated cell, we examined three major characteristics that distinguish preadipocytes from adipocytes: (a) pattern of gene expression; (b) hormonal requirement for accelerated adipogenesis; and (c) pattern of protein synthesis. We found that within hours of TNF addition to adipocytes, mRNAs for genes whose expression is augmented during adipogenesis decreased to predifferentiated levels; in addition, like preadipocytes, TNF-treated adipocytes required exposure to hormones to accelerate adipogenesis. Further, the pattern of protein synthesis seen on polyacrylamide gels reverted to that seen before differentiation. Transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) also caused a rapid decrease in expression of adipose genes when added to fully differentiated cells, an effect that was achieved by treatment with either TGF-beta 1 or TGF-beta 2. These effects were seen in the absence of a demonstrable proliferative response to either TNF or TGF-beta. Thus characteristics that define the "terminally" differentiated state in adipocytes are subject to modulation by environmental influences.

This content is only available as a PDF.