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Sci Rep. 2017 Nov 27;7(1):16332. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-16689-4.

Subcutaneous white adipocytes express a light sensitive signaling pathway mediated via a melanopsin/TRPC channel axis.

Author information

1
Alberta Diabetes Institute, Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 2E1, Canada.
2
Division of Plastic Surgery, Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta, Edmonton Alberta, T6G 2B7, Canada.
3
Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 2E1, Canada.
4
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes, Interdisciplinary Obesity Unit, Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, University of Ulm, Eythstr, 24/89075, Ulm, Germany.
5
Department of Biomedical Sciences, Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, Ohio University, Athens, OH, 45701, USA.
6
Alberta Diabetes Institute, Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 2E1, Canada. plight@ualberta.ca.

Abstract

Subcutaneous white adipose tissue (scWAT) is the major fat depot in humans and is a central player in regulating whole body metabolism. Skin exposure to UV wavelengths from sunlight is required for Vitamin D synthesis and pigmentation, although it is plausible that longer visible wavelengths that penetrate the skin may regulate scWAT function. In this regard, we discovered a novel blue light-sensitive current in human scWAT that is mediated by melanopsin coupled to transient receptor potential canonical cation channels. This pathway is activated at physiological intensities of light that penetrate the skin on a sunny day. Daily exposure of differentiated adipocytes to blue light resulted in decreased lipid droplet size, increased basal lipolytic rate and alterations in adiponectin and leptin secretion. Our results suggest that scWAT function may be directly under the influence of ambient sunlight exposure and may have important implications for our current understanding of adipocyte biology. (150 words).

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