Sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) is a serum protein released mainly by the liver, and a low serum level correlates with a risk for metabolic syndrome including diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular events. However, the underlying molecular mechanism(s) linking SHBG and metabolic syndrome remains unknown. In this study, using adipocytes and macrophages, we focused on the in vitro effects of SHBG on inflammation as well as lipid metabolism. Incubation with 20 nM SHBG markedly suppressed lipopolysaccharide-(LPS-) induced inflammatory cytokines, such as MCP-1, TNFa, and IL-6 in adipocytes and macrophages, along with phosphorylations of JNK and ERK. Anti-inflammatory effects were also observed in 3T3-L1 adipocytes cocultured with LPS-stimulated macrophages. In addition, SHBG treatment for 18 hrs or longer significantly induced the lipid degradation of differentiated 3T3-L1 cells, with alterations in its corresponding gene and protein levels. Notably, these effects of SHBG were not altered by coaddition of large amounts of testosterone or estradiol. In conclusion, SHBG suppresses inflammation and lipid accumulation in macrophages and adipocytes, which might be among the mechanisms underlying the protective effect of SHBG, that is, its actions which reduce the incidence of metabolic syndrome.
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