Angiopoietin-like 4 (Angptl4) protein is a physiological mediator of intracellular lipolysis in murine adipocytes

Nora E. Gray, Lily N. Lam, Karen Yang, Anna Y. Zhou, Suneil Koliwad, Jen Chywan Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Intracellular triacylglycerol (TG) hydrolysis and fatty acid release by the white adipose tissue (WAT) during a fast is stimulated by counter-regulatory factors acting in concert, although how adipocytes integrate these lipolytic inputs is unknown. We tested the role of angiopoietin-like 4 (Angptl4), a secreted protein induced by fasting or glucocorticoid treatment, in modulating intracellular adipocyte lipolysis. Glucocorticoid receptor blockade prevented-fasting-induced tissue Angptl4 expression and WATTG hydrolysis in mice, and TG hydrolysis induced by fasts of 6 or 24 h was greatly reduced in mice lacking Angptl4 (Angptl4-/-). Glucocorticoid treatment mimicked the lipolytic effects of fasting, although with slower kinetics, and this too required Angptl4. Thus, fasting-induced WAT TG hydrolysis requires glucocorticoid action and Angptl4. Both fasting and glucocorticoid treatment also increased WATcAMP levels and downstream phosphorylation of lipolytic enzymes. Angptl4 deficiency markedly reduced these effects, suggesting that Angptl4 may stimulate lipolysis by modulating cAMP-dependent signaling. In support of this, cAMP levels and TG hydrolysis were reduced in primary Angptl4-/- murine adipocytes treated with catecholamines, which stimulate cAMP-dependent signaling to promote lipolysis, and was restored by treatment with purified human ANGPTL4. Remarkably, human ANGPTL4 treatment alone increased cAMP levels and induced lipolysis in these cells. Pharmacologic agents revealed that Angptl4 modulation of cAMP-dependent signaling occurs upstream of adenylate cyclase and downstream of receptor activation. We show that Angptl4 is a glucocorticoid-responsive mediator of fasting-induced intracellular lipolysis and stimulates cAMP signaling in adipocytes. Such a role is relevant to diseases of aberrant lipolysis, such as insulin resistance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8444-8456
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number11
StatePublished - Mar 9 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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