Curcumin promotes browning of white adipose tissue in a norepinephrine-dependent way

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2015 Oct 16;466(2):247-53. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2015.09.018. Epub 2015 Sep 8.


Brown adipose tissue converts energy from food into heat via the mitochondrial uncoupling protein UCP1, defending against cold. In some conditions, inducible 'brown-like' adipocytes, also known as beige adipocytes, can develop within white adipose tissue (WAT). These beige adipocytes have characteristics similar to classical brown adipocytes and thus can burn lipids to produce heat. In the current study, we demonstrated that curcumin (50 or 100 mg/kg/day) decreased bodyweight and fat mass without affecting food intake in mice. We further demonstrated that curcumin improves cold tolerance in mice. This effect was possibly mediated by the emergence of beige adipocytes and the increase of thermogenic gene expression and mitochondrial biogenesis in inguinal WAT. In addition, curcumin promotes β3AR gene expression in inguinal WAT and elevates the levels of plasma norepinephrine, a hormone that can induce WAT browning. Taken together, our data suggest that curcumin can potentially prevent obesity by inducing browning of inguinal WAT via the norepinephrine-β3AR pathway.

Keywords: Curcumin; Plasma norepinephrine; Thermogenesis; Weight loss; White adipose tissue browning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue, Brown / drug effects*
  • Adipose Tissue, Brown / physiology
  • Adipose Tissue, White / drug effects*
  • Adipose Tissue, White / physiology
  • Animals
  • Curcumin / pharmacology*
  • Gene Expression
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Norepinephrine / physiology*
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta-3 / genetics


  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta-3
  • Curcumin
  • Norepinephrine