Central Regulation of Brown Fat Thermogenesis in Response to Saturated or Unsaturated Long-Chain Fatty Acids

Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Jan 15;24(2):1697. doi: 10.3390/ijms24021697.


Sensing of long-chain fatty acids (LCFA) in the hypothalamus modulates energy balance, and its disruption leads to obesity. To date, the effects of saturated or unsaturated LCFA on hypothalamic-brown adipose tissue (BAT) axis and the underlying mechanisms have remained largely unclear. Our aim was to characterize the main molecular pathways involved in the hypothalamic regulation of BAT thermogenesis in response to LCFA with different lengths and degrees of saturation. One-week administration of high-fat diet enriched in monounsaturated FA led to higher BAT thermogenesis compared to a saturated FA-enriched diet. Intracerebroventricular infusion of oleic and linoleic acids upregulated thermogenesis markers and temperature in brown fat of mice, and triggered neuronal activation of paraventricular (PaV), ventromedial (VMH) and arcuate (ARC) hypothalamic nuclei, which was not found with saturated FAs. The neuron-specific protein carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1-C (CPT1C) was a crucial effector of oleic acid since the FA action was blunted in CPT1C-KO mice. Moreover, changes in the AMPK/ACC/malonyl-CoA pathway and fatty acid synthase expression were evoked by oleic acid. Altogether, central infusion of unsaturated but not saturated LCFA increases BAT thermogenesis through CPT1C-mediated sensing of FA metabolism shift, which in turn drive melanocortin system activation. These findings add new insight into neuronal circuitries activated by LCFA to drive thermogenesis.

Keywords: CPT1C; brown adipose tissue; hypothalamus; long-chain fatty acids; obesity; thermogenesis.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue, Brown* / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Hypothalamus* / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Oleic Acids / metabolism
  • Thermogenesis* / genetics
  • Thermogenesis* / physiology


  • CPT1B protein, mouse
  • Fatty Acids
  • Oleic Acids