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Vimentin is required for normal accumulation of body fat

Journal article
Authors Ulrika Wilhelmsson
Pia Stillemark-Billton
Jan Borén
Milos Pekny
Published in Biological Chemistry
Volume 400
Issue 9
Pages 1157-1162
ISSN 1431-6730
Publication year 2019
Published at Wallenberg Laboratory
Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Clinical Neuroscience
Pages 1157-1162
Language en
Keywords body mass index, body weight, cellular stress, intermediate filaments, nanofilaments, stress proteins
Subject categories Internal medicine


Intermediate filaments (nanofilaments) have many functions, especially in response to cellular stress. Mice lacking vimentin (Vim -/- ) display phenotypes reflecting reduced levels of cell activation and ability to counteract stress, e.g. decreased reactivity of astrocytes after neurotrauma, decreased migration of astrocytes and fibroblasts, attenuated inflammation and fibrosis in lung injury, delayed wound healing, impaired vascular adaptation to nephrectomy, impaired transendothelial migration of lymphocytes, and attenuated atherosclerosis. To address the role of vimentin in fat accumulation, we assessed the body weight and fat by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) in Vim -/- and matched wildtype mice. While the weight of 1.5 month old Vim -/- and wildtype mice was comparable, Vim -/- mice showed decreased body weight at 3.5, 5.5 and 8.5 months (males by 19-22%, females by 18-29%). At 8.5 months, Vim -/- males and females had less body fat compared to wildtype mice (a decrease by 24%, p<0.05, and 33%, p<0.0001, respectively). The body mass index in 8.5 months old Vim -/- mice was lower in males (6.8 vs 7.8, p<0.005) and females (6.0 vs 7.7, p<0.0001) despite the slightly lower body length of Vim -/- mice. Increased mortality was observed in adult Vim -/- males. We conclude that vimentin is required for normal accumulation of body fat. © 2019 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston 2019.

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