Concept: Brown adipose tissue
Brown adipose tissue (BAT) has attracted considerable research interest because of its therapeutic potential to treat obesity and associated metabolic diseases. Augmentation of brown fat mass and/or its function may represent an attractive strategy to enhance energy expenditure. Using high-throughput phenotypic screening to induce brown adipocyte reprogramming in committed myoblasts, we identified a retinoid X receptor (RXR) agonist, bexarotene (Bex), that efficiently converted myoblasts into brown adipocyte-like cells. Bex-treated mice exhibited enlarged BAT mass, enhanced BAT function, and a modest browning effect in subcutaneous white adipose tissue (WAT). Expression analysis showed that Bex initiated several “browning” pathways at an early stage during brown adipocyte reprogramming. Our findings suggest RXRs as new master regulators that control brown and beige fat development and activation, unlike the common adipogenic regulator PPARγ. Moreover, we demonstrated that selective RXR activation may potentially offer a therapeutic approach to manipulate brown/beige fat function in vivo.
Thermogenesis in brown adipose tissue (BAT) is fundamental to energy balance and is also relevant for humans. Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) regulate adipogenesis, and, here, we describe a role for BMP8B in the direct regulation of thermogenesis. BMP8B is induced by nutritional and thermogenic factors in mature BAT, increasing the response to noradrenaline through enhanced p38MAPK/CREB signaling and increased lipase activity. Bmp8b(-/-) mice exhibit impaired thermogenesis and reduced metabolic rate, causing weight gain despite hypophagia. BMP8B is also expressed in the hypothalamus, and Bmp8b(-/-) mice display altered neuropeptide levels and reduced phosphorylation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), indicating an anorexigenic state. Central BMP8B treatment increased sympathetic activation of BAT, dependent on the status of AMPK in key hypothalamic nuclei. Our results indicate that BMP8B is a thermogenic protein that regulates energy balance in partnership with hypothalamic AMPK. BMP8B may offer a mechanism to specifically increase energy dissipation by BAT.
A disproportionate amount of body fat within the abdominal cavity, otherwise known as visceral obesity, best predicts the negative health outcomes associated with high levels body fat. Growing evidence suggests that repeated activation of the stress response can favor visceral fat deposition and that visceral obesity may induce low-grade, systemic inflammation which is etiologically linked to the pathogenesis of obesity related diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. While the obesity epidemic has fueled considerable interest in these obesity-related inflammatory diseases, surprisingly little research is currently focused on understanding the functions of inflammatory proteins in healthy, non-obese white adipose tissue (WAT) and their possible role in modulating stress-induced shifts in body fat distribution.
In recent years, it has been shown that humans have active brown adipose tissue (BAT) depots, raising the question of whether activation and recruitment of BAT can be a target to counterbalance the current obesity pandemic. Here, we show that a 10-day cold acclimation protocol in humans increases BAT activity in parallel with an increase in nonshivering thermogenesis (NST). No sex differences in BAT presence and activity were found either before or after cold acclimation. Respiration measurements in permeabilized fibers and isolated mitochondria revealed no significant contribution of skeletal muscle mitochondrial uncoupling to the increased NST. Based on cell-specific markers and on uncoupling protein-1 (characteristic of both BAT and beige/brite cells), this study did not show “browning” of abdominal subcutaneous white adipose tissue upon cold acclimation. The observed physiological acclimation is in line with the subjective changes in temperature sensation; upon cold acclimation, the subjects judged the environment warmer, felt more comfortable in the cold, and reported less shivering. The combined results suggest that a variable indoor environment with frequent cold exposures might be an acceptable and economic manner to increase energy expenditure and may contribute to counteracting the current obesity epidemic.
Human subcutaneous (SQ) white adipose tissue (WAT) can vary according to its anatomical location, with subsequent differences in its proteomic profile.
Brown adipose tissue (BAT) plays a central role in regulating energy homeostasis, and may provide novel strategies for the treatment of human obesity. BAT-mediated thermogenesis is regulated by mitochondrial uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) in classical brown and ectopic beige adipocytes, and is controlled by sympathetic nervous system (SNS). Previous work indicated that fish oil intake reduces fat accumulation and induces UCP1 expression in BAT; however, the detailed mechanism of this effect remains unclear. In this study, we investigated the effect of fish oil on energy expenditure and the SNS. Fish oil intake increased oxygen consumption and rectal temperature, with concomitant upregulation of UCP1 and the β3 adrenergic receptor (β3AR), two markers of beige adipocytes, in the interscapular BAT and inguinal white adipose tissue (WAT). Additionally, fish oil intake increased the elimination of urinary catecholamines and the noradrenaline (NA) turnover rate in interscapular BAT and inguinal WAT. Furthermore, the effects of fish oil on SNS-mediated energy expenditure were abolished in transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) knockout mice. In conclusion, fish oil intake can induce UCP1 expression in classical brown and beige adipocytes via the SNS, thereby attenuating fat accumulation and ameliorating lipid metabolism.
Brown adipose tissue (BAT) burns fat to produce heat when the body is exposed to cold and plays a role in energy metabolism. Using fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography and computed tomography, we previously reported that BAT decreases with age and thereby accelerates age-related accumulation of body fat in humans. Thus, the recruitment of BAT may be effective for body fat reduction. In this study, we examined the effects of repeated stimulation by cold and capsinoids (nonpungent capsaicin analogs) in healthy human subjects with low BAT activity. Acute cold exposure at 19°C for 2 hours increased energy expenditure (EE). Cold-induced increments of EE (CIT) strongly correlated with BAT activity independently of age and fat-free mass. Daily 2-hour cold exposure at 17°C for 6 weeks resulted in a parallel increase in BAT activity and CIT and a concomitant decrease in body fat mass. Changes in BAT activity and body fat mass were negatively correlated. Similarly, daily ingestion of capsinoids for 6 weeks increased CIT. These results demonstrate that human BAT can be recruited even in individuals with decreased BAT activity, thereby contributing to body fat reduction.
Energy dissipation through interscapular brown adipose tissue (iBAT) thermogenesis is an important contributor to adaptive energy expenditure. However, it remains unresolved how acute and chronic changes in energy availability are detected by the brain to adjust iBAT activity and maintain energy homeostasis. Here, we provide evidence that AGRP inhibitory tone to iBAT represents an energy-sparing circuit that integrates environmental food cues and internal signals of energy availability. We establish a role for the nutrient-sensing mTORC1 signaling pathway within AGRP neurons in the detection of environmental food cues and internal signals of energy availability, and in the bi-directional control of iBAT thermogenesis during nutrient deficiency and excess. Collectively, our findings provide insights into how mTORC1 signaling within AGRP neurons surveys energy availability to engage iBAT thermogenesis, and identify AGRP neurons as a neuronal substrate for the coordination of energy intake and adaptive expenditure under varying physiological and environmental contexts.
Intermittent fasting (IF), a periodic energy restriction, has been shown to provide health benefits equivalent to prolonged fasting or caloric restriction. However, our understanding of the underlying mechanisms of IF-mediated metabolic benefits is limited. Here we show that isocaloric IF improves metabolic homeostasis against diet-induced obesity and metabolic dysfunction primarily through adipose thermogenesis in mice. IF-induced metabolic benefits require fasting-mediated increases of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression in white adipose tissue (WAT). Furthermore, periodic adipose-VEGF overexpression could recapitulate the metabolic improvement of IF in non-fasted animals. Importantly, fasting and adipose-VEGF induce alternative activation of adipose macrophage, which is critical for thermogenesis. Human adipose gene analysis further revealed a positive correlation of adipose VEGF-M2 macrophage-WAT browning axis. The present study uncovers the molecular mechanism of IF-mediated metabolic benefit and suggests that isocaloric IF can be a preventive and therapeutic approach against obesity and metabolic disorders.Cell Research advance online publication 17 October 2017; doi:10.1038/cr.2017.126.
How the nuclear receptor PPARγ regulates the development of two functionally distinct types of adipose tissue, brown and white fat, as well as the browning of white fat, remains unclear. Our previous studies suggest that PexRAP, a peroxisomal lipid synthetic enzyme, regulates PPARγ signaling and white adipogenesis. Here, we show that PexRAP is an inhibitor of brown adipocyte gene expression. PexRAP inactivation promoted adipocyte browning, increased energy expenditure, and decreased adiposity. Identification of PexRAP-interacting proteins suggests that PexRAP function extends beyond its role as a lipid synthetic enzyme. Notably, PexRAP interacts with importin-β1, a nuclear import factor, and knockdown of PexRAP in adipocytes reduced the levels of nuclear phospholipids. PexRAP also interacts with PPARγ, as well as PRDM16, a critical transcriptional regulator of thermogenesis, and disrupts the PRDM16-PPARγ complex, providing a potential mechanism for PexRAP-mediated inhibition of adipocyte browning. These results identify PexRAP as an important regulator of adipose tissue remodeling.