IFN-α induces apoptosis of adipose tissue cells

Ruth Z. Birk, Menachem Rubinstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Interferon α (IFN-α) is produced in response to viral infections and used clinically in the therapy of a variety of cancers and viral infections. IFN-α treatment is often associated with severe weight reduction. To elucidate the mechanism of IFN-associated weight loss, we studied its effect on adipocytes in vitro and in vivo. Diet-induced obese (DIO) C57BL/6 mice were treated continuously for 8 days with human IFN-α A/D (100 U/g body weight) or with vehicle alone. The body weight and adipose cell size of IFN-α A/D-treated DIO mice were significantly lower (P < 0.05 and P < 0.001, respectively) as compared with those of control DIO mice. PI3K and Bcl-2 were down-regulated whereas Bax expression was elevated in adipose tissue following IFN treatment as compared to adipose tissue of control DIO mice. Treatment of differentiated 3T3-F442A adipocytes with IFN-α A/D (250 U/ml, 36 h) significantly increased the number of apoptotic cells from 15.8% in control cells to 56 ± 6%. In conclusion, weight loss following IFN-α therapy is due at least in part to increased apoptosis of adipocytes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)669-674
Number of pages6
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number2
StatePublished - 30 Jun 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Adipocytes
  • Apoptosis
  • Body weight
  • Diet-induced obesity
  • IFN-α


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