Only UCP1 can mediate adaptive nonshivering thermogenesis in the cold

FASEB J. 2001 Sep;15(11):2048-50. doi: 10.1096/fj.00-0536fje. Epub 2001 Jul 9.


Adaptive nonshivering thermogenesis may have profound effects on energy balance and is therefore therefore is a potential mechanism for counteracting the development of obesity. The molecular basis for adaptive nonshivering thermogenesis has remained a challenge that sparked acute interest with the identification of proteins (UCP2, UCP3, etc.) with high-sequence similarity to the original uncoupling protein-1 (UCP1), which is localized only in brown adipose tissue. Using UCP1-ablated mice, we examined whether any adaptive nonshivering thermogenesis could be recruited by acclimation to cold. Remarkably, by successive acclimation, the UCP1-ablated mice could be made to subsist for several weeks at 4C during which they had to constantly produce heat at four times their resting levels. Despite these extreme requirements for adaptive nonshivering thermogenesis, however, no substitution of shivering by any adaptive nonshivering thermogenic process occurred. Thus, although the existence of, for example, muscular mechanisms for adaptive nonshivering thermogenesis has recurrently been implied, we did not find any indication of such thermogenesis. Not even during prolonged and enhanced demand for extra heat production was any endogenous hormone or neurotransmitter able to recruit any UCP1-independent adaptive nonshivering thermogenic process in muscle or in any other organ, and no proteins other than UCP1-not even UCP2 or UCP3-therefore have the ability to mediate adaptive nonshivering thermogenesis in the cold.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Body Temperature
  • Body Temperature Regulation / physiology*
  • Carrier Proteins / physiology*
  • Cold Temperature
  • Ion Channels
  • Membrane Proteins / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Shivering
  • Thermogenesis
  • Uncoupling Agents*
  • Uncoupling Protein 1


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Ion Channels
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Ucp1 protein, mouse
  • Uncoupling Agents
  • Uncoupling Protein 1