No evidence of white adipocyte browning after endurance exercise training in obese men

T. Tsiloulis, A. L. Carey, J. Bayliss, B. Canny, R. C. R. Meex, M. J. Watt*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: The phenomenon of adipocyte 'beiging' involves the conversion of non-classic brown adipocytes to brown-like adipose tissue with thermogenic, fat-burning properties, and this phenomenon has been shown in rodents to slow the progression of obesity-associated metabolic diseases. Rodent studies consistently report adipocyte beiging after endurance exercise training, indicating that increased thermogenic capacity in these adipocytes may underpin the improved health benefits of exercise training. The aim of this study was to determine whether prolonged endurance exercise training induces beige adipogenesis in subcutaneous adipose tissues of obese men.

SUBJECTS/METHODS: Molecular markers of beiging were examined in adipocytes obtained from abdominal subcutaneous (AbSC) and gluteofemoral (GF) subcutaneous adipose tissues before and after 6 weeks of endurance exercise training in obese men (n=6, 37.3 +/- 2.3 years, 30.1 +/- 2.3 kg m(-2)).

RESULTS: The mRNAs encoding the brown or beige adipocyte-selective proteins were very lowly expressed in AbSC and GF adipose tissues and exercise training did not alter the mRNA expression of UCP1, CD137, CITED, TBX1, LHX8 and TCF21. Using immunohistochemistry, neither multilocular adipocytes, nor UCP1 or CD137-positive adipocytes were detected in any sample. MicroRNAs known to regulate brown and/or beige adipose development were highly expressed in white adipocytes but endurance exercise training did not impact their expression.

CONCLUSIONS: The present study reaffirms emerging data in humans demonstrating no evidence of white adipose tissue beiging in response to exercise training, and supports a growing body of work demonstrating divergence of brown/beige adipose location, molecular characterization and physiological function between rodents and humans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)721-727
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


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