Mitochondrial reactive oxygen species and adipose tissue thermogenesis: Bridging physiology and mechanisms

J Biol Chem. 2017 Oct 13;292(41):16810-16816. doi: 10.1074/jbc.R117.789628. Epub 2017 Aug 24.


Brown and beige adipose tissues can catabolize stored energy to generate heat, relying on the principal effector of thermogenesis: uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1). This unique capability could be leveraged as a therapy for metabolic disease. Numerous animal and cellular models have now demonstrated that mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) signal to support adipocyte thermogenic identity and function. Herein, we contextualize these findings within the established principles of redox signaling and mechanistic studies of UCP1 function. We provide a framework for understanding the role of mitochondrial ROS signaling in thermogenesis together with testable hypotheses for understanding mechanisms and developing therapies.

Keywords: adipocyte; adipose tissue; adipose tissue metabolism; mitochondria; reactive oxygen species (ROS); thermogenesis.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / metabolism
  • Adipose Tissue, Brown / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Thermogenesis*
  • Uncoupling Protein 1 / metabolism*


  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • UCP1 protein, human
  • Uncoupling Protein 1