Adipocyte GPX4 protects against inflammation, hepatic insulin resistance and metabolic dysregulation

Julian Schwärzler, Lisa Mayr, Bernhard Radlinger, Felix Grabherr, Maureen Philipp, Bernhard Texler, Christoph Grander, Andreas Ritsch, Monika Hunjadi, Barbara Enrich, Karin Salzmann, Qitao Ran, Lukas A. Huber, Herbert Tilg, Susanne Kaser, Timon E. Adolph

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Objectives: Metabolic inflammation is a hallmark of obesity and related disorders, afflicting substantial morbidity and mortality to individuals worldwide. White visceral and subcutaneous adipose tissue not only serves as energy storage but also controls metabolism. Adipose tissue inflammation, commonly observed in human obesity, is considered a critical driver of metabolic perturbation while molecular hubs are poorly explored. Metabolic stress evoked by e.g. long-chain fatty acids leads to oxidative perturbation of adipocytes and production of inflammatory cytokines, fuelling macrophage infiltration and systemic low-grade inflammation. Glutathione peroxidase 4 (GPX4) protects against lipid peroxidation, accumulation of oxygen-specific epitopes and cell death, collectively referred to as ferroptosis. Here, we explore the function of adipocyte GPX4 in mammalian metabolism. Methods: We studied the regulation and function of GPX4 in differentiated mouse adipocytes derived from 3T3-L1 fibroblasts. We generated two conditional adipocyte-specific Gpx4 knockout mice by crossing Gpx4fl/fl mice with Adipoq-Cre+ (Gpx4−/−AT) or Fabp4-Cre+ (Gpx4+/−Fabp4) mice. Both models were metabolically characterized by a glucose tolerance test and insulin resistance test, and adipose tissue lipid peroxidation, inflammation and cell death were assessed by quantifying oxygen-specific epitopes, transcriptional analysis of chemokines, quantification of F4/80+ macrophages and TUNEL labelling. Results: GPX4 expression was induced during and required for adipocyte differentiation. In mature adipocytes, impaired GPX4 activity spontaneously evoked lipid peroxidation and expression of inflammatory cytokines such as TNF-α, interleukin 1β (IL-1β), IL-6 and the IL-8 homologue CXCL1. Gpx4−/−AT mice spontaneously displayed adipocyte hypertrophy on a chow diet, which was paralleled by the accumulation of oxygen-specific epitopes and macrophage infiltration in adipose tissue. Furthermore, Gpx4−/−AT mice spontaneously developed glucose intolerance, hepatic insulin resistance and systemic low-grade inflammation, when compared to wildtype littermates, which was similarly recapitulated in Gpx4+/−Fabp4 mice. Gpx4−/−AT mice exhibited no signs of adipocyte death. Conclusion: Adipocyte GPX4 protects against spontaneous metabolic dysregulation and systemic low-grade inflammation independent from ferroptosis, which could be therapeutically exploited in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)951-959
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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