Mevalonate biosynthesis pathway regulates the development and survival of brown adipocytes

iScience. 2023 Feb 8;26(3):106161. doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2023.106161. eCollection 2023 Mar 17.


The high thermogenic activity of brown adipose tissue (BAT) has received considerable attention. Here, we demonstrated the role of the mevalonate (MVA) biosynthesis pathway in the regulation of brown adipocyte development and survival. The inhibition of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase (HMGCR), the rate-limiting enzyme in the MVA pathway and the molecular target of statins, suppressed brown adipocyte differentiation by suppressing protein geranylgeranylation-mediated mitotic clonal expansion. The development of BAT in neonatal mice exposed to statins during the fetal period was severely impaired. Moreover, statin-induced geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate (GGPP) deficiency led to the apoptosis of mature brown adipocytes. Brown adipocyte-specific Hmgcr knockout induced BAT atrophy and disrupted thermogenesis. Importantly, both genetic and pharmacological inhibition of HMGCR in adult mice induced morphological changes in BAT accompanied by an increase in apoptosis, and statin-treated diabetic mice showed worsened hyperglycemia. These findings revealed that MVA pathway-generated GGPP is indispensable for BAT development and survival.

Keywords: Biochemistry; Biological sciences; Molecular Genetics.