Nutrition plays a dominant role in human adaptation. Biological traits conferring these adaptations are of considerable significance. Within an obesogenic environment, there is considerable variation among individuals in their susceptibility to weight gain. Some individuals rapidly gain weight, whereas others remain lean without any conscious effort, suggesting that obesity pathogenesis may not be centered on just the primal feeding behavior. The ability of certain individuals to subconsciously resist obesity reveals adaptive calorie-burning mechanisms that may promote fitness. Here, we review a fat-burning mechanism that is turned on by the brain hormone orexin during high-caloric food consumption. Remarkably, the same hormone also induces feeding, and its levels correlate with lean body mass in both rodents and humans. Intriguingly, loss of orexin prevents thermogenic energy expenditure while inducing obesity in the face of hypophagia. Thus, orexin is a unique neuropeptide that promotes both feeding and energy expenditure, conferring resistance to weight gain. Mechanisms that safely augment orexin signaling may have potential in antiobesity therapeutics.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Adipose tissue metabolically adapts to external stimuli. We demonstrate that the induction of the thermogenic program in white adipocytes, through cold exposure in mice or in vitro adrenergic stimulation, is accompanied by a decrease in the intracellular content of glutathione (GSH). Moreover, the treatment with a GSH depleting agent, buthionine sulfoximine (BSO), recapitulates the effect of cold exposure resulting in the induction of thermogenic program. In particular, BSO treatment leads to enhanced uncoupling respiration as demonstrated by increased expression of thermogenic genes (e.g. Ucp1, Ppargc1a), augmented oxygen consumption and decreased mitochondrial transmembrane potential. Buffering GSH decrement by pre-treatment with GSH ester prevents the up-regulation of typical markers of uncoupling respiration. We demonstrate that FoxO1 activation is responsible for the conversion of white adipocytes into a brown phenotype as the "browning" effects of BSO are completely abrogated in cells down-regulating FoxO1. In mice, the BSO-mediated up-regulation of uncoupling genes results in weight loss that is at least in part ascribed to adipose tissue mass reduction. The induction of thermogenic program has been largely proposed to counteract obesity-related diseases. Based on these findings, we propose GSH as a novel therapeutic target to increase energy expenditure in adipocytes.
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