Genetic and Pharmacological Inhibition of PAPP-A Protects against Visceral Obesity in Mice

Akhila Ramakrishna, Laurie K. Bale, Sally A. West, Cheryl A. Conover

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Pathogenicity of visceral adipose tissue (VAT) has been linked to the metabolic stress of enlarging mature adipocytes and a limited ability to recruit new adipocytes. One of the major distinguishing features of VAT preadipocytes is the high expression of the zinc metalloprotease, pregnancy-associated plasma protein-A (PAPP-A), when compared to subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT). In this study we used 2 different approaches to investigate the effect of PAPP-A inhibition on different fat depots in mice on a high-fat diet (HFD) for 15 weeks. Conditional knockdown of PAPP-A gene expression in female adult mice resulted in significant decreases of 30% to 40% in adipocyte size in VAT (mesenteric and pericardial depots) compared to control mice. There was no effect on SAT (inguinal) or intra-abdominal perigonadal fat. Liver lipid was also significantly decreased without any effect on heart and skeletal muscle lipid. We found similar effects when using a pharmacological approach. Weekly injections of a specific immunoneutralizing monoclonal antibody (mAb-PA 1/41) or isotype control were given to male and female wild-type mice on HFD for 15 weeks. Adipocyte size was significantly decreased (30%-50%) only in VAT with mAb-PA 1/41 treatment. In this model, cell number was significantly increased in mesenteric fat in mice treated with mAb-PA 1/41, suggesting hyperplasia along with reduced hypertrophy in this VAT depot. Gene expression data indicated a significant decrease in F4/80 (macrophage marker) and interleukin-6 (proinflammatory cytokine) and a significant increase in adiponectin (anti-inflammatory adipokine with beneficial metabolic effects) in mesenteric fat compared to inguinal fat in mice treated with mAb-PA 1/41. Furthermore, there was significantly decreased liver lipid content with mAb-PA 1/41 treatment. Thus, using 2 different models systems we provide proof of principle that PAPP-A inhibition is a potential therapeutic target to prevent visceral obesity and its metabolic sequelae, such as fatty liver.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberbqaa160
JournalEndocrinology (United States)
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020


  • PAPP-A
  • insulin-like growth factor
  • obesity
  • preadipocytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology


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