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Animal Models

Strong association of serum- and glucocorticoid-regulated kinase 1 with peripheral and adipose tissue inflammation in obesity



The serum- and glucocorticoid-regulated kinase 1 (SGK1) is an early transcriptional target of glucocorticoids and is activated via insulin. Here we investigate the regulation of SGK1 expression in human obesity, diet-induced murine obesity and human monocytic cell line THP-1 monocytes.

Subjects and methods:

SGK1 expression was studied in subcutaneous and omental adipose tissue (AT) of 20 morbidly obese and 20 age- and gender-matched non-obese controls in murine diet-induced obesity and the THP-1 cell line. The regulation of SGK1 by inflammatory signals was tested in THP-1 cells.


Murine diet-induced obesity is associated with a significant upregulation of Sgk1 in gonadal AT. Sgk1 expression is highest in the macrophage-rich stromal vascular fraction and lower in adipocytes. In humans, AT SGK1 is predominantly expressed in CD14+ macrophages and significantly upregulated in omental and subcutaneous AT of obese subjects. SGK1 mRNA expression in both omental and subcutaneous AT correlates with body mass index, circulating leptin and C-reactive protein, and the local expression of inflammatory markers including monocyte chemotactic protein-1 and macrophage inflammatory protein-1α. The expression of SGK1 in THP-1 cells is upregulated by inflammatory signals, such as lipopolysaccharide and tumour necrosis factor-α, as well as during the induction of monocyte-to-macrophage maturation.


Our data present the first link between SGK1 and obesity-associated inflammation. SGK1 expression is stimulated in response to inflammatory signals and increased in AT macrophages. The characterisation of SGK1 functions in obesity and immunity may help identify potential therapeutic targets in the treatment of obesity.

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We thank L-I Ionasz for expert technical assistance.

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Correspondence to G Vila.

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Schernthaner-Reiter, M., Kiefer, F., Zeyda, M. et al. Strong association of serum- and glucocorticoid-regulated kinase 1 with peripheral and adipose tissue inflammation in obesity. Int J Obes 39, 1143–1150 (2015).

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