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Ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) is primarily known for its roles as a lesion factor released by the ruptured glial cells that prevent neuronal degeneration. However, CNTF has also been shown to cause weight loss in a variety of rodent models of obesity/type II diabetes, whereas a modified form also causes weight loss in humans. CNTF administration can correct or improve hyperinsulinemia, hyperphagia, and hyperlipidemia associated with these models of obesity. In order to investigate the effects of CNTF on fat cells, we examined the expression of CNTF receptor complex proteins (LIFR, gp130, and CNTFRα) during adipocyte differentiation and the effects of CNTF on STAT, Akt, and MAPK activation. We also examined the ability of CNTF to regulate the expression of adipocyte transcription factors and other adipogenic proteins. Our studies clearly demonstrate that the expression of two of the three CNTF receptor complex components, CNTFRα and LIFR, decreases during adipocyte differentiation. In contrast, gp130 expression is relatively unaffected by differentiation. In addition, preadipocytes are more sensitive to CNTF treatment than adipocytes, as judged by both STAT 3 and Akt activation. Despite decreased levels of CNTFRα expression in fully differentiated 3T3-L1 adipocytes, CNTF treatment of these cells resulted in a time-dependent activation of STAT 3. Chronic treatment of adipocytes resulted in a substantial decrease in fatty-acid synthase and a notable decline in SREBP-1 levels but had no effect on the expression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ, acrp30, adipocyte-expressed STAT proteins, or C/EBPa. However, CNTF resulted in a significant increase in IRS-1 expression. CNTFRα receptor expression was substantially induced in the fat pads of four rodent models of obesity/type II diabetes as compared with lean littermates. Moreover, we demonstrated that CNTF can activate STAT 3 in adipose tissue and skeletal muscle in vivo. In summary, CNTF affects adipocyte gene expression, and the specific receptor for this cytokine is induced in rodent models of obesity/type II diabetes.

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Journal of Biological Chemistry

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