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Concept: Uncoupling protein


Brown and beige adipocytes are characterised as expressing the unique mitochondrial uncoupling protein (UCP)1 for which the primary stimulus in vivo is cold exposure. The extent to which cold-induced UCP1 activation can also be achieved in vitro, and therefore perform a comparable cellular function, is unknown. We report an in vitro model to induce adipocyte browning using bone marrow (BM) derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSC), which relies on differentiation at 32 °C instead of 37 °C. The low temperature promoted browning in adipogenic cultures, with increased adipocyte differentiation and upregulation of adipogenic and thermogenic factors, especially UCP1. Cells exhibited enhanced uncoupled respiration and metabolic adaptation. Cold-exposed differentiated cells showed a marked translocation of leptin to adipocyte nuclei, suggesting a previously unknown role for leptin in the browning process. These results indicate that BM-MSC can be driven to forming beige-like adipocytes in vitro by exposure to a reduced temperature. This in vitro model will provide a powerful tool to elucidate the precise role of leptin and related hormones in hitherto functions in the browning process.

Concepts: Stem cell, Mesenchymal stem cell, Bone marrow, Cellular respiration, Cytoplasm, Cellular differentiation, Adipocyte, Uncoupling protein


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.

Concepts: Metabolism, Fat, Adipose tissue, Epinephrine, Norepinephrine, Brown adipose tissue, Thermogenesis, Uncoupling protein


Uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) is localized on the inner mitochondrial membrane and generates heat by uncoupling ATP synthesis from proton transit across the inner membrane. UCP1 is a key element of nonshivering thermogenesis and is most likely important in the regulation of body adiposity. Pigs (Artiodactyl family Suidae) lack a functional UCP1 gene, resulting in poor thermoregulation and susceptibility to cold, which is an economic and pig welfare issue owing to neonatal mortality. Pigs also have a tendency toward fat accumulation, which may be linked to their lack of UCP1, and thus influences the efficiency of pig production. Here, we report application of a CRISPR/Cas9-mediated, homologous recombination (HR)-independent approach to efficiently insert mouse adiponectin-UCP1 into the porcine endogenous UCP1 locus. The resultant UCP1 knock-in (KI) pigs showed an improved ability to maintain body temperature during acute cold exposure, but they did not have alterations in physical activity levels or total daily energy expenditure (DEE). Furthermore, ectopic UCP1 expression in white adipose tissue (WAT) dramatically decreased fat deposition by 4.89% (P < 0.01), consequently increasing carcass lean percentage (CLP; P < 0.05). Mechanism studies indicated that the loss of fat upon UCP1 activation in WAT was linked to elevated lipolysis. UCP1 KI pigs are a potentially valuable resource for agricultural production through their combination of cold adaptation, which improves pig welfare and reduces economic losses, with reduced fat deposition and increased lean meat production.

Concepts: Mitochondrion, Cellular respiration, Adipose tissue, Pig, Suidae, Brown adipose tissue, Uncoupling protein, Thermogenin


Uncoupling protein 1 (Ucp1) contributes to thermogenesis, and its expression is regulated at the transcriptional level. Here, we show that Ucp1 expression is also regulated post-transcriptionally. In inguinal white adipose tissue (iWAT) of mice fed a high-fat diet (HFD), Ucp1 level decreases concomitantly with increases in Cnot7 and its interacting partner Tob. HFD-fed mice lacking Cnot7 and Tob express elevated levels of Ucp1 mRNA in iWAT and are resistant to diet-induced obesity. Ucp1 mRNA has an elongated poly(A) tail and persists in iWAT of Cnot7(-/-) and/or Tob(-/-) mice on a HFD. Ucp1 3'-UTR-containing mRNA is more stable in cells expressing mutant Tob that is unable to bind Cnot7 than in WT Tob-expressing cells. Tob interacts with BRF1, which binds to an AU-rich element in the Ucp1 3'-UTR. BRF1 knockdown partially restores the stability of Ucp1 3'-UTR-containing mRNA. Thus, the Cnot7-Tob-BRF1 axis inhibits Ucp1 expression and contributes to obesity.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Adipose tissue, Brown adipose tissue, Thermogenesis, Uncoupling protein, Thermogenin


Increasing the thermogenic capacity of adipose tissue to enhance organismal energy expenditure is considered a promising therapeutic strategy to combat obesity. Here, we report that expression of the p38 MAPK activator MKK6 is elevated in white adipose tissue of obese individuals. Using knockout animals and shRNA, we show that Mkk6 deletion increases energy expenditure and thermogenic capacity of white adipose tissue, protecting mice against diet-induced obesity and the development of diabetes. Deletion of Mkk6 increases T3-stimulated UCP1 expression in adipocytes, thereby increasing their thermogenic capacity. Mechanistically, we demonstrate that, in white adipose tissue, p38 is activated by an alternative pathway involving AMPK, TAK, and TAB. Our results identify MKK6 in adipocytes as a potential therapeutic target to reduce obesity.Brown and beige adipose tissues dissipate heat via uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1). Here the authors show that the stress activated kinase MKK6 acts as a repressor of UCP1 expression, suggesting that its inhibition promotes adipose tissue browning and increases organismal energy expenditure.

Concepts: Gene expression, Obesity, Insulin resistance, Adipose tissue, Tissues, Thermogenesis, Adiponectin, Uncoupling protein


Neuropepetide Y (NPY) is best known for its powerful stimulation of food intake and its effects on reducing energy expenditure. However, the pathways involved and the regulatory mechanisms behind this are not well understood. Here we demonstrate that NPY derived from the arcuate nucleus (Arc) is critical for the control of sympathetic outflow and brown adipose tissue (BAT) function. Mechanistically, a key change induced by Arc NPY signaling is a marked Y1 receptor-mediated reduction in tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) expression in the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN), which is also associated with a reduction in TH expression in the locus coeruleus (LC) and other regions in the brainstem. Consistent with this, Arc NPY signaling decreased sympathetically innervated BAT thermogenesis, involving the downregulation of uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) expression in BAT. Taken together, these data reveal a powerful Arc-NPY-regulated neuronal circuit that controls BAT thermogenesis and sympathetic output via TH neurons.

Concepts: Nervous system, Hypothalamus, Leptin, Dopamine, Thermogenesis, Arcuate nucleus, Uncoupling protein, Thermogenin


ABSTRACT Hypermetabolism is a prominent feature of burn injury and altered mitochondria function is presumed to contribute to this state. Recently, brown adipose tissue (BAT) is found to be present not only in rodents, but also in human, and its activity is associated with resting metabolic rate. In this report, we elucidated the relationship between burn injury induced hypermetabolism and BAT activity, and the possible role of the mitochondria-targeted peptide, SS31, in attenuating burn injury induced hypermetabolism using a rat burn injury model. We demonstrated that burn injury induces morphological changes in interscapular brown adipose tissue (iBAT). Burn injury is associated with iBAT activation and that this effect was positively correlated with increased energy expenditure. BAT activation was associated with augmentation of mitochondria biogenesis, and uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) expression in the isolated iBAT mitochondria. In addition, the mitochondria-targeted peptide, SS31, attenuated burn injury induced hypermetabolism, which was accompanied by suppression of UCP1 expression in isolated mitochondria. Our results suggest that BAT plays an important role in burn injury induced hypermetabolism through its morphological changes and expression of UCP1.

Concepts: Metabolism, Energy, Mitochondrion, Oxidative phosphorylation, Cellular respiration, Thermogenesis, Uncoupling protein, Thermogenin


The interrelationship between brown adipose tissue (BAT) and white adipose tissue (WAT) is emerging as an important factor in obesity, but the effect of impairing non-shivering thermogenesis in BAT on lipid storage in WAT remains unclear. To address this, we have characterized the metabolic phenotype of a mouse model for Costeff syndrome, in which a point mutation in the mitochondrial membrane protein Opa3 impairs mitochondrial activity. Opa3(L122P) mice displayed an 80% reduction in insulin-like growth factor 1, postnatal growth retardation and hepatic steatosis. A 90% reduction in uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) expression in interscapular BAT was accompanied by a marked reduction in surface body temperature, with a 2.5-fold elevation in interscapular BAT mass and lipid storage. The sequestration of circulating lipid into BAT resulted in profound reductions in epididymal and retroperitoneal WAT mass, without affecting subcutaneous WAT. The histological appearance and intense mitochondrial staining in intra-abdominal WAT suggest significant ‘browning’, but with UCP1 expression in WAT of Opa3(L122P) mice only 62% of that in wild-type littermates, any precursor differentiation does not appear to result in thermogenically active beige adipocytes. Thus, we have identified Opa3 as a novel regulator of lipid metabolism, coupling lipid uptake with lipid processing in liver and with thermogenesis in BAT. These findings indicate that skeletal and metabolic impairment in Costeff syndrome may be more significant than previously thought and that uncoupling lipid uptake from lipid metabolism in BAT may represent a novel approach to controlling WAT mass in obesity.

Concepts: Metabolism, Mitochondrion, Cellular respiration, Adipose tissue, Brown adipose tissue, Thermogenesis, Uncoupling protein, Thermogenin


The aim of this study was to investigate the expression of uncoupling protein 2 (UCP2) and zonula occludens-1 (ZO-1) in the trabecular meshwork ™ of neovascular glaucoma (NVG) patients treated with trabeculectomy.

Concepts: Glaucoma, Trabecular meshwork, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, Trabeculectomy, Uncoupling protein, UCP2


Brown adipocytes are specialized cells capable of undergoing thermogenesis, a phenomenon regulated by the sympathetic nervous system, due to the presence of uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1). The recent demonstrations of their presence in adult humans, and the discovery that brown adipocytes can be derived from distinct precursors and express specific genes depending on their anatomic location, have sparked intense interest in enhancing the current understanding of their biology and relevance to human energy homeostasis. We provide an overview of the latest advances related to the developmental origins of brown adipocytes, discuss their regulation and function in both rodents and humans, and offer a critical perspective on the relevance of brown adipocyte-mediated thermogenesis in human physiology.

Concepts: DNA, Biology, Physiology, Human anatomy, Parasympathetic nervous system, Thermogenesis, Uncoupling protein, Thermogenin