Obesity, which results from prolonged imbalance between energy intake and energy expenditure, is an independent risk factor for a number of chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, fatty liver disease, neurodegenerative disorders, and a number of cancers. Simplistically, there are two major ways of combating obesity: to decrease energy intake or to increase energy expenditure. The recent discovery of cold-induced brown/beige fat in humans has generated a great deal of excitement for its therapeutic targeting in humans. However, our current knowledge of the signaling pathways that license thermogenesis in brown/beige adipose tissue is very limited. This application builds on our new discoveries that immune signals license the thermogenic programs in brown adipose tissue of mice. We will utilize techniques from mouse genetics, immunology, genomics, and metabolism to dissect the underlying mechanisms by which immune signals regulate thermogenesis in brown adipose tissue. The three specific questions we will address are: 1) What are the physiologic mechanisms by which immune signals license thermogenesis in brown adipocytes?, 2) What are the cellular signaling pathways by which immunity regulates uncoupled respiration in brown adipocytes?, and 3) How do immune signals regulate mitochondrial protein expression and respiration? The successful completion of these aims will provide novel insights into cellular and molecular pathways that regulate brown fat thermogenesis, thus advancing our understanding of how to therapeutically target this tissue for the treatment of human obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Public Health Relevance

Obesity is a global epidemic that results from chronic imbalance between energy intake and energy expenditure. One potential way of treating obesity is to increase energy expenditure via activating heat production in brown and beige fat. In this application, we will study the molecular and cellular pathways that control the development of functional brown fat. Understanding these pathways might shed new light on how to treat human obesity.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
Cellular Aspects of Diabetes and Obesity Study Section (CADO)
Program Officer
Haft, Carol R
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University of California San Francisco
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Medicine
San Francisco
United States
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