Objective: To directly ascertain the physiological roles in adipocytes of hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL; E.C. 188.8.131.52), a multifunctional hydrolase that can mediate triacylglycerol cleavage in adipocytes.
Research methods and procedures: We performed constitutive gene targeting of the mouse HSL gene (Lipe), subsequently studied the adipose tissue phenotype clinically and histologically, and measured lipolysis in isolated adipocytes.
Results: Homozygous HSL-/- mice have no detectable HSL peptide or cholesteryl esterase activity in adipose tissue, and heterozygous mice have intermediate levels with respect to wild-type and deficient littermates. HSL-deficient mice have normal body weight but reduced abdominal fat mass compared with normal littermates. Histologically, both white and brown adipose tissues in HSL-/- mice show marked heterogeneity in cell size, with markedly enlarged adipocytes juxtaposed to cells of normal morphology. In isolated HSL-/- adipocytes, lipolysis is not significantly increased by beta3-adrenergic stimulation, but under basal conditions in the absence of added catecholamines, the lipolytic rate of isolated HSL-/- adipocytes is at least as high as that of cells from normal controls. Cold tolerance during a 48-hour period at 4 degrees C was similar in HSL-/- mice and controls. Overnight fasting was well-tolerated clinically by HSL-/- mice, but after fasting, liver triglyceride content was significantly lower in HSL-/- mice compared with wild-type controls.
Conclusions: In isolated fat cells, the lipolytic rate after beta-adrenergic stimulation is mainly dependent on HSL. However, the observation of a normal rate of lipolysis in unstimulated HSL-/- adipocytes suggests that HSL-independent lipolytic pathway(s) exist in fat. Physiologically, HSL deficiency in mice has a modest effect under normal fed conditions and is compatible with normal maintenance of core body temperature during cold stress. However, the lipolytic response to overnight fasting is subnormal.