Human white-fat thermogenesis: experimental and meta-analytic findings

FAME Lab - Human white-fat thermogenesis: Experimental and meta-analytic findingsDinas PC, Krase A, Nintou E, Georgakopoulos A, Granzotto M, Metaxas M, Karachaliou E, Rossato M, Vettor R, Georgoulias P, S Mayor T, Koutsikos J, Athanasiou K, Ioannou LG, Gkiata P, Carrillo AE, Koutedakis Y, Metsios GS, Jamurtas AZ, Chatziioannou S, Flouris AD. Human white-fat thermogenesis: Experimental and meta-analytic findings. Temperature (Austin). 2020 Jun 5;8(1):39-52. doi: 10.1080/23328940.2020.1769530. PMID: 33553504; PMCID: PMC7849687.


White adipose tissue (WAT) thermogenic activity may play a role in whole-body energy balance and two of its main regulators are thought to be environmental temperature (Tenv) and exercise. Low Tenv may increase uncoupling protein one (UCP1; the main biomarker of thermogenic activity) in WAT to regulate body temperature. On the other hand, exercise may stimulate UCP1 in WAT, which is thought to alter body weight regulation. However, our understanding of the roles (if any) of Tenv and exercise in WAT thermogenic activity remains incomplete. Our aim was to examine the impacts of low Tenv and exercise on WAT thermogenic activity, which may alter energy homeostasis and body weight regulation.

We conducted a series of four experimental studies, supported by two systematic reviews and meta-analyses. We found increased UCP1 mRNA (p = 0.03; but not protein level) in human WAT biopsy samples collected during the cold part of the year, a finding supported by a systematic review and meta-analysis (PROSPERO review protocol: CRD42019120116). Additional clinical trials (NCT04037371; NCT04037410) using Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography (PET/CT) revealed no impact of low Tenv on human WAT thermogenic activity (p > 0.05).

Furthermore, we found no effects of exercise on UCP1 mRNA or protein levels (p > 0.05) in WAT biopsy samples from a human randomized controlled trial (Clinical trial: NCT04039685), a finding supported by systematic review and meta-analytic data (PROSPERO review protocol: CRD42019120213). Taken together, the present experimental and meta-analytic findings of UCP1 and SUVmax, demonstrate that cold and exercise may play insignificant roles in human WAT thermogenic activity.

Abbreviations: WAT:White adipose tissue; Tenv: Environmental temperature; UCP1: Uncoupling protein one; BAT: Brown adipose tissue; BMI:Body mass index; mRNA: Messenger ribonucleic acid; RCT: Randomized controlled trial; WHR: Waist-to-hip ratio; PRISMA: Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses; PET/CT: Positron Emission Tomography and Computed Tomography; REE: Resting energy expenditure; 18F-FDG: F18 fludeoxyglucose; VO2peak:Peak oxygen consumption; 1RM: One repetition maximum; SUVmax: Maximum standardized uptake value; Std: Standardized mean difference.

Full Text Link:

Download PDF: