Amodiaquine promotes testosterone production and de novo synthesis of cholesterol and triglycerides in Leydig cells

Yujeong Choi, Eun Goo Lee, Gibbeum Lee, Mi Gyeong Jeong, Hyo Kyeong Kim, Ji Hyun Oh, Sung Won Kwon, Eun Sook Hwang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Testosterone is a hormone essential for male reproductive function. It is produced primarily by Leydig cells in the testicle through activation of steroidogenic acute regulatory protein and a series of steroidogenic enzymes, including a cytochrome P450 side-chain cleavage enzyme (cytochome P450 family 11 subfamily A member 1), 17α-hydroxylase (cytochrome P450 family 17 subfamily A member 1), and 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase. These steroidogenic enzymes are mainly regulated at the transcriptional level, and their expression is increased by the nuclear receptor 4A1. However, the effect on Leydig cell function of a small molecule-activating ligand, amodiaquine (AQ), is unknown. We found that AQ effectively and significantly increased testosterone production in TM3 and primary Leydig cells through enhanced expression of steroidogenic acute regulatory protein, cytochome P450 family 11 subfamily A member 1, cytochrome P450 family 17 subfamily A member 1, and 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase. Concurrently, AQ dose-dependently increased the expression of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase, a key enzyme in the cholesterol synthesis pathway, through induction of the transcriptional and DNA-binding activities of nuclear receptor 4A1, contributing to increased cholesterol synthesis in Leydig cells. Furthermore, AQ increased the expression of fatty acid synthase and diacylglycerol acyltransferase and potentiated de novo synthesis of fatty acids and triglycerides (TGs). Lipidomics profiling further confirmed a significant elevation of intracellular lipid and TG levels by AQ in Leydig cells. These results demonstrated that AQ effectively promotes testosterone production and de novo synthesis of cholesterol and TG in Leydig cells, indicating that AQ may be beneficial for treating patients with Leydig cell dysfunction and subsequent testosterone deficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100152
JournalJournal of Lipid Research
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 THE AUTHORS. Published by Elsevier Inc on behalf of American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (


  • 3βHSD
  • Amodiaquine
  • CYP11A1
  • CYP17A1
  • Cholesterol synthesis
  • Lipidomics
  • Nuclear receptor 4A1
  • Steroidogenesis
  • Steroidogenic acute regulatory protein
  • Testosterone deficiency


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