Adipose tissue (AT) comprises distinct fat depots such as white AT and brown AT. White and brown adipocytes exhibit different morphological and physiological properties. White adipocytes containing large single lipid droplet (LD) provide energy on demand whereas brown adipocytes loaded with multilocular LDs consume energy to generate heat or dissipate excess energy. Recent studies have shown that multilocular brown-like cells emerge in white AT under certain conditions. These cells termed beige adipocytes participate in energy expenditure and heat generation. In the process of lipolysis, TG is broken down into free fatty acid and diacylglycerol (DG). In this regard, DG also serves as a signaling molecule activating some proteins such as protein kinase C. Therefore, DG kinase (DGK), an enzyme which phosphorylates DG into phosphatidic acid (PA), plays a pivotal role in integrating energy homeostasis and intracellular signaling. Recently, we described that DGKε-KO mice exhibit increased adiposity in visceral white AT accompanied with impaired glucose tolerance early (40 days) in the course of high fat diet (HFD) feeding, although these mice exhibit "browning or beiging" in visceral white AT associated with improved glucose tolerance after longer term HFD feeding (180 days). This study was conducted to understand the overall features of adipose tissues and investigate changes in subcutaneous (inguinal) white AT and interscapular brown AT of DGKε-KO mice during the course of HFD feeding. Results demonstrated that fat accumulation is promoted in all fat depots under 40 days of HFD feeding conditions. Remarkably, "whitening" of brown adipocytes was identified in DGKε-deficient brown AT during the course of HFD feeding, suggesting brown adipocyte dysfunction. In addition, insulin levels were considerably elevated in DGKε-KO mice under 180 days of HFD feeding conditions. Collectively, these findings suggest that brown adipocytes are dysfunctional in DGKε-KO mice, which promotes browning or beiging in visceral white AT. Beige adipocytes may take over energy disposal and contribute to improving glucose tolerance with the aid of high levels of insulin in DGKε-KO mice upon excess feeding.
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