Piperonal attenuates visceral adiposity in mice fed a high-fat diet: potential involvement of the adenylate cyclase–protein kinase A dependent pathway

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Piperonal is an aromatic compound found in vanilla and has a floral odor resembling vanillin. This study was aimed to test whether piperonal attenuates visceral adiposity induced by a high-fat diet (HFD) in mice and to explore the underlying molecular mechanisms.

Methods and results

Male C57BL/6N mice were fed a normal diet, HFD, or 0.05% piperonal-supplemented HFD (PSD) for 10 weeks. PSD-fed mice showed attenuation of body weight gain, total visceral fat pad weights, and plasma lipid levels compared to HFD-fed mice. Piperonal supplementation of the HFD increased the mRNA expression of certain isotypes of adenylate cyclase (Adcy) and protein kinase A (PKA) in the white adipose tissue (WAT) of mice. The adipogenesis-related genes were downregulated, whereas fatty acid oxidation- and thermogenesis-related genes were upregulated in the WAT of PSD-fed mice compared to those in HFD-fed mice. Piperonal directly activated Adcy by decreasing the Km for its substrate (ATP) in plasma membranes prepared from the WAT of mice. Furthermore, piperonal-induced inhibition of adipocyte differentiation and elevation of Adcy and PKA activities in 3T3-L1 cells were abrogated by an Adcy inhibitor.


The anti-adipogenic effect of piperonal in mice fed the high-fat diet appears to be associated with increased Adcy–PKA signaling in WAT.

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