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1.  The Gq signalling pathway inhibits brown and beige adipose tissue 
Nature Communications  2016;7:10895.
Brown adipose tissue (BAT) dissipates nutritional energy as heat via the uncoupling protein-1 (UCP1) and BAT activity correlates with leanness in human adults. Here we profile G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) in brown adipocytes to identify druggable regulators of BAT. Twenty-one per cent of the GPCRs link to the Gq family, and inhibition of Gq signalling enhances differentiation of human and murine brown adipocytes. In contrast, activation of Gq signalling abrogates brown adipogenesis. We further identify the endothelin/Ednra pathway as an autocrine activator of Gq signalling in brown adipocytes. Expression of a constitutively active Gq protein in mice reduces UCP1 expression in BAT, whole-body energy expenditure and the number of brown-like/beige cells in white adipose tissue (WAT). Furthermore, expression of Gq in human WAT inversely correlates with UCP1 expression. Thus, our data indicate that Gq signalling regulates brown/beige adipocytes and inhibition of Gq signalling may be a novel therapeutic approach to combat obesity.
Brown and beige adipose tissues contribute to organismal energy expenditure by generating heat. Here, Klepac et al. survey G protein-coupled receptors in brown fat and show that Gq-coupled receptors inhibit expression of thermogenic proteins in mice and in human adipocytes.
PMCID: PMC4786868  PMID: 26955961
2.  Brown Adipose Tissue Improves Whole-Body Glucose Homeostasis and Insulin Sensitivity in Humans 
Diabetes  2014;63(12):4089-4099.
Brown adipose tissue (BAT) has attracted scientific interest as an antidiabetic tissue owing to its ability to dissipate energy as heat. Despite a plethora of data concerning the role of BAT in glucose metabolism in rodents, the role of BAT (if any) in glucose metabolism in humans remains unclear. To investigate whether BAT activation alters whole-body glucose homeostasis and insulin sensitivity in humans, we studied seven BAT-positive (BAT+) men and five BAT-negative (BAT−) men under thermoneutral conditions and after prolonged (5–8 h) cold exposure (CE). The two groups were similar in age, BMI, and adiposity. CE significantly increased resting energy expenditure, whole-body glucose disposal, plasma glucose oxidation, and insulin sensitivity in the BAT+ group only. These results demonstrate a physiologically significant role of BAT in whole-body energy expenditure, glucose homeostasis, and insulin sensitivity in humans, and support the notion that BAT may function as an antidiabetic tissue in humans.
PMCID: PMC4238005  PMID: 25056438
3.  Two types of brown adipose tissue in humans 
Adipocyte  2013;3(1):63-66.
During the last years the existence of metabolically active brown adipose tissue in adult humans has been widely accepted by the research community. Its unique ability to dissipate chemical energy stored in triglycerides as heat makes it an attractive target for new drugs against obesity and its related diseases. Hence the tissue is now subject to intense research, the hypothesis being that an expansion and/or activation of the tissue is associated with a healthy metabolic phenotype. Animal studies provide evidence for the existence of at least two types of brown adipocytes. Apart from the classical brown adipocyte that is found primarily in the interscapular region where it constitutes a thermogenic organ, a second type of brown adipocyte, the so-called beige adipocyte, can appear within white adipose tissue depots. The fact that the two cell types develop from different precursors suggests that they might be recruited and stimulated by different cues and therefore represent two distinct targets for therapeutic intervention. The aim of this commentary is to discuss recent work addressing the question whether also humans possess two types of brown adipocytes and to highlight some issues when looking for molecular markers for such cells.
PMCID: PMC3917936  PMID: 24575372
adipose tissue; brown adipose tissue; beige adipocyte; classical brown adipocyte; human
4.  Comparison of Dorsocervical With Abdominal Subcutaneous Adipose Tissue in Patients With and Without Antiretroviral Therapy–Associated Lipodystrophy 
Diabetes  2011;60(7):1894-1900.
Combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) is associated with lipodystrophy, i.e., loss of subcutaneous adipose tissue in the abdomen, limbs, and face and its accumulation intra-abdominally. No fat is lost dorsocervically and it can even accumulate in this region (buffalo hump). It is unknown how preserved dorsocervical fat differs from abdominal subcutaneous fat in HIV-1–infected cART-treated patients with (cART+LD+) and without (cART+LD−) lipodystrophy.
We used histology, microarray, PCR, and magnetic resonance imaging to compare dorsocervical and abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue in cART+LD+ (n = 21) and cART+LD− (n = 11).
Albeit dorsocervical adipose tissue in cART+LD+ seems spared from lipoatrophy, its mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA; copies/cell) content was significantly lower (by 62%) than that of the corresponding tissue in cART+LD−. Expression of CD68 mRNA, a marker of macrophages, and numerous inflammatory genes in microarray were significantly lower in dorsocervical versus abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue. Genes with the greatest difference in expression between the two depots were those involved in regulation of transcription and regionalization (homeobox genes), irrespective of lipodystrophy status. There was negligible mRNA expression of uncoupling protein 1, a gene characteristic of brown adipose tissue, in either depot.
Because mtDNA is depleted even in the nonatrophic dorsocervical adipose tissue, it is unlikely that the cause of lipoatrophy is loss of mtDNA. Dorsocervical adipose tissue is less inflamed than lipoatrophic adipose tissue. It does not resemble brown adipose tissue. The greatest difference in gene expression between dorsocervical and abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue is in expression of homeobox genes.
PMCID: PMC3121420  PMID: 21602514
5.  The Adipocyte-Expressed Forkhead Transcription Factor Foxc2 Regulates Metabolism Through Altered Mitochondrial Function 
Diabetes  2011;60(2):427-435.
Previous findings demonstrate that enhanced expression of the forkhead transcription factor Foxc2 in adipose tissue leads to a lean and insulin-sensitive phenotype. These findings prompted us to further investigate the role of Foxc2 in the regulation of genes of fundamental importance for metabolism and mitochondrial function.
The effects of Foxc2 on expression of genes involved in mitochondriogenesis and mitochondrial function were assessed by quantitative real-time PCR. The potential of a direct transcriptional regulation of regulated genes was tested in promoter assays, and mitochondrial morphology was investigated by electron microscopy. Mitochondrial function was tested by measuring oxygen consumption and extracellular acidification rates as well as palmitate oxidation.
Enhanced expression of FOXC2 in adipocytes or in cells with no endogenous Foxc2 expression induces mitochondriogenesis and an elongated mitochondrial morphology. Together with increased aerobic metabolic capacity, increased palmitate oxidation, and upregulation of genes encoding respiratory complexes and of brown fat-related genes, Foxc2 also specifically induces mitochondrial fusion genes in adipocytes. Among tested forkhead genes, Foxc2 is unique in its ability to trans-activate the nuclear-encoded mitochondrial transcription factor A (mtTFA/Tfam) gene—a master regulator of mitochondrial biogenesis. In human adipose tissue the expression levels of mtTFA/Tfam and of fusion genes also correlate with that of Foxc2.
We previously showed that a high-calorie diet and insulin induce Foxc2 in adipocytes; the current findings identify a previously unknown role for Foxc2 as an important metabo-regulator of mitochondrial morphology and metabolism.
PMCID: PMC3028341  PMID: 21270254

Results 1-5 (5)