The brominated flame retardant BDE 47 upregulates purine metabolism and mitochondrial respiration to promote adipocyte differentiation

Chunxue Yang, Chi Ming Wong, Juntong Wei, Chi Kong Arthur CHUNG*, Zongwei CAI*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Adipocyte differentiation is closely associated with obesity and obesity-induced metabolic disorders. Epidemiological studies have demonstrated the association of obesity with environmental pollutants, such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), common flame retardants in various consumer products. However, their obesogenic effects and mechanism are underexplored. We employed non-targeted metabolomics studies based on liquid chromatography-high resolution mass spectrometry to determine how 2,2′,4,4′-tetra-brominated biphenyl ether (BDE 47), one of the main congeners of PBDEs detected in human tissue, promotes adipocyte differentiation of mouse preadipocyte 3 T3-L1 cells. The promoting effects of BDE 47 exposure (5 or 10 μM) on adipocyte differentiation were confirmed by enhancing lipid accumulation and expression levels of biomarkers of adipogenesis. For the first time, we demonstrated that BDE 47 upregulated purine metabolism and altered glutathione metabolism to promote oxidative stress and uric acid production in adipocytes. BDE 47 also elevated mitochondrial respiration and glycolysis in adipocytes to induce more ATP to combat oxidative stress. Antioxidant treatments, including the suppression of xanthine oxidase, inhibited the effects of BDE 47 on inducing oxidative stress and lipid accumulation. BDE 47 may be a potential environmental obesogen by providing a permissive oxidative environment to induce adipocyte differentiation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1312-1322
Number of pages11
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2018

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

User-Defined Keywords

  • Adipocytes differentiation
  • BDE 47
  • Mitochondrial respiration
  • Oxidative stress
  • Purine metabolism


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