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JCI Insight. 2018 Aug 9;3(15). pii: 121510. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.121510. eCollection 2018 Aug 9.

Human adipose beiging in response to cold and mirabegron.

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The Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, and the Barnstable Brown Diabetes and Obesity Center, and.
Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, College of Health Sciences and Center for Muscle Biology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA.
McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.
Department of Neuroscience.
Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Center, and.
College of Public Health, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA.



The induction of beige adipocytes in s.c. white adipose tissue (WAT) depots of humans is postulated to improve glucose and lipid metabolism in obesity. The ability of obese, insulin-resistant humans to induce beige adipose tissue is unknown.


We exposed lean and obese research participants to cold (30-minute ice pack application each day for 10 days of the upper thigh) or treated them with the β3 agonist mirabegron. We determined beige adipose marker expression by IHC and quantitative PCR, and we analyzed mitochondrial bioenergetics and UCP activity with an Oxytherm system.


Cold significantly induced UCP1 and TMEM26 protein in both lean and obese subjects, and this response was not associated with age. Interestingly, these proteins increased to the same extent in s.c. WAT of the noniced contralateral leg, indicating a crossover effect. We further analyzed the bioenergetics of purified mitochondria from the abdominal s.c. WAT of cold-treated subjects and determined that repeat ice application significantly increased uncoupled respiration, consistent with the UCP1 protein induction and subsequent activation. Cold also increased State 3 and maximal respiration, and this effect on mitochondrial bioenergetics was stronger in summer than winter. Chronic treatment (10 weeks; 50 mg/day) with the β3 receptor agonist mirabegron induces UCP1, TMEM26, CIDEA, and phosphorylation of HSL on serine660 in obese subjects.


Cold or β3 agonists cause the induction of beige adipose tissue in human s.c. WAT; this phenomenon may be exploited to increase beige adipose in older, insulin-resistant, obese individuals.



NIH (DK107646, DK112282, P20GM103527, and by CTSA grant UL1TR001998).


Adipose tissue; Clinical Trials; Metabolism; Obesity

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