Exp Mol Med.  2006 Apr;38(2):162-172.

Association of anti-obesity activity of N-acetylcysteine with metallothionein-II down-regulation

  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, College of Medicine, Yeungnam University, Daegu 705-717, Korea. jhykim@ynu.ac.kr
  • 2Department of Surgery, College of Medicine, Yeungnam University, Daegu 705-717, Korea.
  • 3Department of Plastic Surgery, Daegu Fatima Hospital, Daegu 705-631, Korea.


People with upper body or visceral obesity have a much higher risk of morbidity and mortality from obesity-related metabolic disorders than those with lower body obesity. In an attempt to develop therapeutic strategies targeting visceral obesity, depot- specific differences in the expression of genes in omental and subcutaneous adipose tissues were investigated by DNA array technology, and their roles in adipocyte differentiation were further examined. We found that levels of metallothionein-II (MT-II) mRNA and protein expression were higher in omental than in subcutaneous adipose tissues. The study demonstrates that MT-II may play an important role in adipocyte differentiation of 3T3L1 preadipocytes, and that N-acetylcysteine (NAC) inhibits the adipocyte differentiation of 3T3L1 cells by repressing MT-II in a time- and dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, the intraperitoneal administration of NAC to rats and mice resulted in a reduction of body weights, and a marked reduction in visceral fat tissues. These results suggest that MT-II plays important roles in adipogenesis, and that NAC may be useful as an anti-obesity drug or supplement.


anti-obesity agents; metallothionein-II; N-acetylcysteine; obesity; oligonucleotide array sequence analysis
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