Dipeptidyl Peptidase 4 Is a Novel Adipokine Potentially Linking Obesity to the Metabolic Syndrome

  1. Juergen Eckel1
  1. 1Paul-Langerhans-Group, German Diabetes Center, Duesseldorf, Germany
  2. 2Institute of Clinical Biochemistry and Pathobiochemistry, German Diabetes Center, Duesseldorf, Germany
  3. 3Department of Endocrinology, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium
  4. 4Department of Medicine, Karolinska Institute at Karolinska Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden
  5. 5Institute of Biochemistry II, Medical Faculty, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany
  1. Corresponding author: Juergen Eckel, eckel{at}
  1. D.L., S.F., and N.W. contributed equally to the work.


OBJECTIVE Comprehensive proteomic profiling of the human adipocyte secretome identified dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP4) as a novel adipokine. This study assessed the functional implications of the adipokine DPP4 and its association to the metabolic syndrome.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS Human adipocytes and skeletal and smooth muscle cells were used to monitor DPP4 release and assess the effects of soluble DPP4 on insulin signaling. In lean and obese subjects, depot-specific expression of DPP4 and its release from adipose tissue explants were determined and correlated to parameters of the metabolic syndrome.

RESULTS Fully differentiated adipocytes exhibit a substantially higher release of DPP4 compared with preadipocytes or macrophages. Direct addition of DPP4 to fat and skeletal and smooth muscle cells impairs insulin signaling. A fivefold higher level of DPP4 protein expression was seen in visceral compared with subcutaneous fat of obese patients, with no regional difference in lean subjects. DPP4 serum concentrations significantly correlated with adipocyte size. By using adipose tissue explants from lean and obese subjects, we observed a twofold increase in DPP4 release that strongly correlated with adipocyte volume and parameters of the metabolic syndrome and was decreased to the lean level after weight reduction. DPP4 released from adipose tissue correlated positively with an increasing risk score for the metabolic syndrome.

CONCLUSIONS DPP4 is a novel adipokine that may impair insulin sensitivity in an autocrine and paracrine fashion. Furthermore, DPP4 release strongly correlates with adipocyte size, potentially representing an important source of DPP4 in obesity. Therefore, we suggest that DPP4 may be involved in linking adipose tissue and the metabolic syndrome.


  • Received December 8, 2010.
  • Accepted April 2, 2011.

Readers may use this article as long as the work is properly cited, the use is educational and not for profit, and the work is not altered. See for details.

| Table of Contents