Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry

, Volume 415, Issue 1–2, pp 51–66 | Cite as

Proteomic identification of fat-browning markers in cultured white adipocytes treated with curcumin

  • Sang Woo Kim
  • Jae Heon Choi
  • Rajib Mukherjee
  • Ki-Chul Hwang
  • Jong Won Yun


We previously reported that curcumin induces browning of primary white adipocytes via enhanced expression of brown adipocyte-specific genes. In this study, we attempted to identify target proteins responsible for this fat-browning effect by analyzing proteomic changes in cultured white adipocytes in response to curcumin treatment. To elucidate the role of curcumin in fat-browning, we conducted comparative proteomic analysis of primary adipocytes between control and curcumin-treated cells using two-dimensional electrophoresis combined with MALDI-TOF-MS. We also investigated fatty acid metabolic targets, mitochondrial biogenesis, and fat-browning-associated proteins using combined proteomic and network analyses. Proteomic analysis revealed that 58 protein spots from a total of 325 matched spots showed differential expression between control and curcumin-treated adipocytes. Using network analysis, most of the identified proteins were proven to be involved in various metabolic and cellular processes based on the PANTHER classification system. One of the most striking findings is that hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL) was highly correlated with main browning markers based on the STRING database. HSL and two browning markers (UCP1, PGC-1α) were co-immunoprecipitated with these markers, suggesting that HSL possibly plays a role in fat-browning of white adipocytes. Our results suggest that curcumin increased HSL levels and other browning-specific markers, suggesting its possible role in augmentation of lipolysis and suppression of lipogenesis by trans-differentiation from white adipocytes into brown adipocytes (beige).


Anti-obesity Curcumin Fat-browning Proteome White adipocytes 



Two-dimensional electrophoresis


Annexin A2


AMP-activated protein kinase


ATP synthase subunit beta, mitochondrial


Carbonic anhydrase 3


Citrate synthase


CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein/encoding gene


Fatty acid binding protein 4


Trifunctional enzyme subunit alpha


Hormone-sensitive lipase


Heat shock protein 90 kDa


Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma co-activator 1-alpha


Malate dehydrogenase


Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor


PR domain-containing 16/encoding gene


Uncoupling protein/encoding gene


White adipose tissue



This work was supported by the Mid-career Researcher Program (2013R1A2A2A05004195) and SRC Program (Center for Food & Nutritional Genomics, Grant number 2015R1A5A6001906) through a NRF Grant funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, Korea.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have declared no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiotechnologyDaegu UniversityKyungsanRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.Catholic Kwandong University, International St. Mary’s HospitalIncheon Metropolitan CityRepublic of Korea
  3. 3.Institute for Bio-Medical Convergence, College of MedicineCatholic Kwandong UniversityGangneung-siRepublic of Korea

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