Increased mitochondrial activity in BMP7-treated brown adipocytes, due to increased CPT1- and CD36-mediated fatty acid uptake

Antioxid Redox Signal. 2013 Jul 20;19(3):243-57. doi: 10.1089/ars.2012.4536. Epub 2012 Oct 9.


Aims: Brown adipose tissue dissipates chemical energy in the form of heat and regulates triglyceride and glucose metabolism in the body. Factors that regulate fatty acid uptake and oxidation in brown adipocytes have not yet been fully elucidated. Bone morphogenetic protein 7 (BMP7) is a growth factor capable of inducing brown fat mitochondrial biogenesis during differentiation from adipocyte progenitors. Administration of BMP7 to mice also results in increased energy expenditure. To determine if BMP7 is able to affect the mitochondrial activity of mature brown adipocytes, independent of the differentiation process, we delivered BMP7 to mature brown adipocytes and measured mitochondrial activity.

Results: We found that BMP7 increased mitochondrial activity, including fatty acid oxidation and citrate synthase activity, without increasing the mitochondrial number. This was accompanied by an increase in fatty acid uptake and increased protein expression of CPT1 and CD36, which import fatty acids into the mitochondria and the cell, respectively. Importantly, inhibition of either CPT1 or CD36 resulted in a blunting of the mitochondrial activity of BMP7-treated cells.

Innovation: These findings uncover a novel pathway regulating mitochondrial activities in mature brown adipocytes by BMP7-mediated fatty acid uptake and oxidation.

Conclusion: In conclusion, BMP7 increases mitochondrial activity in mature brown adipocytes via increased fatty acid uptake and oxidation, a process that requires the fatty acid transporters CPT1 and CD36.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activating Transcription Factor 2 / metabolism
  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Adipocytes, Brown / metabolism*
  • Adipose Tissue, Brown / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Body Temperature
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 7 / genetics
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 7 / metabolism*
  • CD36 Antigens / metabolism*
  • Carnitine O-Palmitoyltransferase / metabolism*
  • Catalysis
  • Cell Respiration
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression
  • Mice
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Pyruvic Acid / metabolism
  • Smad Proteins, Receptor-Regulated / metabolism
  • Transfection
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism


  • Activating Transcription Factor 2
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 7
  • CD36 Antigens
  • Fatty Acids
  • Smad Proteins, Receptor-Regulated
  • Pyruvic Acid
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Carnitine O-Palmitoyltransferase
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases