BRITE (brown-in-white) cells are brown adipocyte-like cells found in white adipose tissue (WAT) of rodents and/or humans. The recruitment of BRITE adipocytes, referred to as the browning of WAT, is hallmarked by the expression of UCP1 and exerts beneficial metabolic effects. Here we address whether beyond systemic cues depot- and strain-specific variation in BRITE recruitment is determined by a cellular program intrinsic to progenitors. Therefore we compared the browning capacity of serum and investigated brown and BRITE adipogenesis in primary cultures of stromal-vascular cells isolated from interscapular brown adipose tissue (iBAT), inguinal white adipose tissue (iWAT) and epididymal white adipose tissue (eWAT) in two inbred mouse strains C57BL/6J (B6, a strain with low browning propensity) and 129/S6SvEv (129, a strain with high browning propensity). Paradoxically, serum collected from B6 mice was more potent in the promotion of browning than serum collected from 129 mice. Nevertheless, we demonstrate that depot- and strain-specific differences observed in vivo are pheno-copied in primary cultures in vitro, as judged by UCP1 expression and by functional analysis. Notably, primary adipocytes from 129 mice had a higher capacity for isoproterenol-induced uncoupled respiration than B6. We conclude that cues intrinsic to the progenitor cells contribute to differential BRITE adipogenesis. Further analyses demonstrate that these cues are independent of autocrine/paracrine mechanisms, BRITE progenitor abundance and genetic variation in the gene regulatory region of Ucp1 but rather depend on trans-acting factors. These results provide new insights on the molecular basis of strain and depot-specific differences in BRITE adipogenesis.
Keywords: Brown adipose tissue; Mitochondria; Nonshivering thermogenesis; Uncoupling protein.
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