Recruitment of the brown-like phenotype in white adipocytes (browning) and activation of existing brown adipocytes are currently being investigated as a means to combat obesity. Thus, a wide variety of dietary agents that contribute to browning of white adipocytes have been identified. The present study was designed to investigate the effects of cannabidiol (CBD), a major nonpsychotropic phytocannabinoid of Cannabis sativa, on induction of browning in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. CBD enhanced expression of a core set of brown fat-specific marker genes (Ucp1, Cited1, Tmem26, Prdm16, Cidea, Tbx1, Fgf21, and Pgc-1α) and proteins (UCP1, PRDM16, and PGC-1α). Increased expression of UCP1 and other brown fat-specific markers contributed to the browning of 3T3-L1 adipocytes possibly via activation of PPARγ and PI3K. In addition, CBD increased protein expression levels of CPT1, ACSL, SIRT1, and PLIN while down-regulating JNK2, SREBP1, and LPL. These data suggest possible roles for CBD in browning of white adipocytes, augmentation of lipolysis, thermogenesis, and reduction of lipogenesis. In conclusion, the current data suggest that CBD plays dual modulatory roles in the form of inducing the brown-like phenotype as well as promoting lipid metabolism. Thus, CBD may be explored as a potentially promising therapeutic agent for the prevention of obesity.
Keywords: Browning; Cannabidiol; Lipogenesis; Thermogenesis.