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Effects of Pharmacological Thermogenic Adipocyte Activation on Metabolism and Atherosclerotic Plaque Regression

Worthmann, Anna, Schlein, Christian, Berbée, Jimmy F. P., Rensen, Patrick C. N., Heeren, Joerg, Bartelt, Alexander
Nutrients 2019 v.11 no.2
adipocytes, adiposity, animal models, atherosclerosis, blood lipids, brown adipose tissue, gene expression, glucose, heat, liver, low density lipoprotein, metabolism, mice, nutrients, triacylglycerols, white adipose tissue
Thermogenic adipocytes burn nutrients in order to produce heat. Upon activation, brown adipose tissue (BAT) clears vast amounts of lipids and glucose from the circulation and thus substantially lowers plasma lipid levels. As a consequence, BAT activation protects from the development of atherosclerosis. However, it is unclear if pharmacologic activation of BAT can be exploited therapeutically to reduce plaque burden in established atherosclerotic disease. Here we study the impact of thermogenic adipose tissues on plaque regression in a mouse model of atherosclerosis. Thermogenic adipocytes in atherosclerotic low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor (LDLR)-deficient mice were pharmacologically activated by dietary CL316,243 (CL) treatment for 4 weeks and the outcomes on metabolically active tissues, plasma lipids and atherosclerosis were analyzed. While the chronic activation of thermogenic adipocytes reduced adiposity, increased browning of white adipose tissue (WAT), altered liver gene expression, and reduced plasma triglyceride levels, atherosclerotic plaque burden remained unchanged. Our findings suggest that despite improving adiposity and plasma triglycerides, pharmacologic activation of thermogenic adipocytes is not able to reverse atherosclerosis in LDLR-deficient mice.