Tanshinone IIA is a diterpene quinone isolated from the roots of Salvia miltiorrhiza
bunge that has traditionally been used in China for the treatment of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disorders. Although there is recent evidence showing that tanshinone IIA has an anti-obesity effect, its underlying mechanism of anti-obesity effect is poorly understood. Here, we investigated the effect of tanshinone IIA on lipid accumulation in 3T3-L1 preadipocytes and zebrafish. Notably, tanshinone IIA at 10 μM concentration greatly reduced lipid accumulation and triglyceride (TG) contents during 3T3-L1 preadipocyte differentiation, suggesting its anti-adipogenic effect. On mechanistic levels, tanshinone IIA reduced the expression levels of CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein-α (C/EBP-α), peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ (PPAR-γ), fatty acid synthase (FAS), and perilipin A but also the phosphorylation levels of signal transducer and activator of transcription-3/5 (STAT-3/5) in differentiating 3T3-L1 cells. In addition, tanshinone IIA strongly inhibited leptin and resistin mRNA expression in differentiating 3T3-L1 cells. Importantly, the tanshinone IIA’s lipid-reducing effect was also seen in zebrafish. In sum, these findings demonstrate that tanshinone IIA has anti-adipogenic effects on 3T3-L1 cells and zebrafish, and its anti-adipogenic effect on 3T3-L1 cells is largely attributable to the reduced expression and/or phosphorylation levels of C/EBP-α, PPAR-γ, FAS, perilipin A, and STAT-3/5.
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