Inducible brown adipocytes in subcutaneous inguinal white fat: The role of continuous sympathetic stimulation

G. Andres Contreras, Yun Hee Lee, Emilio P. Mottillo, James G. Granneman

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60 Citations (Scopus)


Brown adipocytes (BA) generate heat in response to sympathetic activation and are the main site of nonshivering thermogenesis in mammals. Although most BA are located in classic brown adipose tissue depots, BA are also abundant in the inguinal white adipose tissue (iWAT) before weaning. The number of BA is correlated with the density of sympathetic innervation in iWAT; however, the role of continuous sympathetic tone in the establishment and maintenance of BA in WAT has not been investigated. BA marker expression in iWAT was abundant in weaning mice but was greatly reduced by 8 wk of age. Nonetheless, BA phenotype could be rapidly reinstated by acute β3-adrenergic stimulation with CL-316,243 (CL). Genetic tagging of adipocytes with adiponectin-CreERT2 demonstrated that CL reinstates uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) expression in adipocytes that were present before weaning. Chronic surgical denervation dramatically reduced the ability of CL to induce the expression of UCP1 and other BA markers in the tissue as a whole, and this loss of responsiveness was prevented by concurrent treatment with CL. These results indicate that ongoing sympathetic activity is critical to preserve the ability of iWAT fat cells to express a BA phenotype upon adrenergic stimulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E793-E799
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Nov 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 the American Physiological Society.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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