AdipoRon alleviates fatty acid–induced lipid accumulation and mitochondrial dysfunction in bovine hepatocytes by promoting autophagy

Chenchen Zhao, Bing Wu, Jinxia Li, Qianming Jiang, Juan J. Loor, Menglin Liu, Linfang Chen, Yiwei Zhu, Wenwen Gao, Xiliang Du, Yuxiang Song, Guowen Liu, Lin Lei, Xinwei Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During the transition period in dairy cows, high circulating concentrations of nonesterified fatty acids (NEFA) increase hepatic lipid deposits and are considered a major pathological factor for liver damage. We investigated whether AdipoRon, a synthetic small-molecule agonist of adiponectin receptors 1 and 2 shown to prevent liver lipid accumulation in nonruminants, could alleviate NEFA-induced lipid accumulation and mitochondrial dysfunction. Bovine hepatocytes were isolated from 5 healthy Holstein female newborn calves (1 d of age, 30–40 kg, fasting), and independently isolated hepatocytes from at least 3 different calves were used for each subsequent experiment. The composition and concentration of NEFA used in this study were selected according to hematological criteria of dairy cows with fatty liver or ketosis. First, hepatocytes were cultured with various concentrations of NEFA (0, 0.6, 1.2, or 2.4 mM) for 12 h. In a second experiment, hepatocytes were treated with AdipoRon at different concentrations (0, 5, 25, or 50 μM for 12 h) and times (25 μM for 0, 6, 12, or 24 h) with or without NEFA (1.2 mM) treatment. In the last experiment, hepatocytes were treated with AdipoRon (25 μM), NEFA (1.2 mM), or both for 12 h after treatment with or without the autophagy inhibitor chloroquine. Hepatocytes treated with NEFA had increased protein abundance of sterol regulatory element-binding protein 1c (SREBP-1c) and mRNA abundance of acetyl-CoA carboxylase 1 (ACACA), and decreased protein abundance of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor α (PPARA), proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator-1 α (PGC-1α), mitofusin 2 (MFN2), cytochrome c oxidase subunit IV (COX IV), and mRNA abundance of carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1A (CPT1A), along with lower ATP concentrations. AdipoRon treatment reversed these effects, suggesting this compound had a positive effect on lipid metabolism and mitochondrial dysfunction during the NEFA challenge. In addition, upregulated expression of microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3-II (LC3-II, encoded by MAP1LC3) and downregulated expression of sequestosome-1 (SQSTM1, also called p62) indicated that AdipoRon enhanced autophagic activity in hepatocytes. The fact that chloroquine impeded the beneficial effects of AdipoRon on lipid accumulation and mitochondrial dysfunction suggested a direct role for autophagy during NEFA challenge. Our results suggest that autophagy is an important cellular mechanism to prevent NEFA-induced lipid accumulation and mitochondrial dysfunction in bovine hepatocytes, which is consistent with other studies. Overall, AdipoRon may represent a promising therapeutic agent to maintain hepatic lipid homeostasis and mitochondrial function in dairy cows during the transition period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5763-5774
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2023


  • AdipoRon
  • autophagy
  • lipid accumulation
  • mitochondrial dysfunction
  • nonesterified fatty acids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Genetics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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