Archives of Toxicology

, Volume 93, Issue 7, pp 1903–1915 | Cite as

A long-wave UVA filter avobenzone induces obesogenic phenotypes in normal human epidermal keratinocytes and mesenchymal stem cells

  • Sungjin Ahn
  • Seungchan An
  • Moonyoung Lee
  • Eunyoung Lee
  • Jeong Joo Pyo
  • Jeong Hyeon Kim
  • Min Won Ki
  • Sun Hee Jin
  • Jaehyoun Ha
  • Minsoo NohEmail author
Molecular Toxicology


Avobenzone is the most commonly used ultraviolet (UV) A filter ingredient in sunscreen. To investigate the biological activity of avobenzone in normal human epidermal keratinocytes (NHEKs), the genome-scale transcriptional profile of NHEKs was performed. In this microarray study, we found 273 up-regulated and 274 down-regulated differentially expressed genes (DEGs) in NHEKs treated with avobenzone (10 μM). Gene Ontology (GO) enrichment analysis showed that avobenzone significantly increased the DEGs associated with lipid metabolism in NHEKs. In addition, avobenzone increased the gene transcription of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ) and fatty acid binding protein 4 in NHEKs, implicating that avobenzone may be one of the metabolic disrupting obesogens. To confirm the obesogenic potential, we examined the effect of avobenzone on adipogenesis in human bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (hBM-MSCs). Avobenzone (EC50, 14.1 μM) significantly promoted adipogenesis in hBM-MSCs as its positive control obesogenic chemicals. Avobenzone (10 μM) significantly up-regulated mRNA levels of PPARγ during adipogenesis in hBM-MSCs. However, avobenzone did not directly bind to PPARγ and the avobenzone-induced adipogenesis-promoting activity was not affected by PPARγ antagonists T0070907 and GW9662. Therefore, avobenzone promoted adipogenesis in hBM-MSCs through a PPARγ-independent mechanism. This study suggests that avobenzone functions as a metabolic disrupting obesogen.


Avobenzone Normal human epidermal keratinocytes Human bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells Obesogen 



This study was partly supported by the Collaborative Genome Program for Fostering New Post-Genome Industry of the National Research Foundation (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) (No. 2014M3C9A2064603) and the MRC grant through NRF Korea (NRF-2018R1A5A2024425).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Eunyoung Lee and Jaehyoun Ha are employees of IEC Korea Inc. The other authors have no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

204_2019_2462_MOESM1_ESM.docx (112 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 111 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of PharmacySeoul National UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.Natural Products Research Institute, College of PharmacySeoul National UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea
  3. 3.Toxicology DivisionIEC KoreaSuwonRepublic of Korea

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