CB1 Antagonism Exerts Specific Molecular Effects on Visceral and Subcutaneous Fat and Reverses Liver Steatosis in Diet-Induced Obese Mice

  1. Pascal Degrace
  1. From the Unité Mixte de Recherche 866 Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale–Université de Bourgogne, Team Physiopathology of Dyslipidemia, Faculty of Sciences Gabriel, Dijon, France.
  1. Corresponding author: Pascal Degrace, pascal.degrace{at}


OBJECTIVE The beneficial effects of the inactivation of endocannabinoid system (ECS) by administration of antagonists of the cannabinoid receptor (CB) 1 on several pathological features associated with obesity is well demonstrated, but the relative contribution of central versus peripheral mechanisms is unclear.

We examined the impact of CB1 antagonism on liver and adipose tissue lipid metabolism in a mouse model of diet-induced obesity.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS Mice were fed either with a standard diet or a high-sucrose high-fat (HSHF) diet for 19 weeks and then treated with the CB1-specific antagonist SR141716 (10 mg · kg−1 · day−1) for 6 weeks.

RESULTS Treatment with SR141716 reduced fat mass, insulin levels, and liver triglycerides primarily increased by HSHF feeding. Serum adiponectin levels were restored after being reduced in HSHF mice. Gene expression of scavenger receptor class B type I and hepatic lipase was induced by CB1 blockade and associated with an increase in HDL-cholesteryl ether uptake. Concomitantly, the expression of CB1, which was strongly increased in the liver and adipose tissue of HSHF mice, was totally normalized by the treatment. Interestingly, in visceral but not subcutaneous fat, genes involved in transport, synthesis, oxidation, and release of fatty acids were upregulated by HSHF feeding, while this effect was counteracted by CB1 antagonism.

CONCLUSIONS A reduction in the CB1-mediated ECS activity in visceral fat is associated with a normalization of adipocyte metabolism, which may be a determining factor in the reversion of liver steatosis induced by treatment with SR141716.


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    • Received October 7, 2009.
    • Accepted January 15, 2010.

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