Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is a key organ that produces heat and dissipates energy, and may be clinically relevant to the treatment of obesity and diabetes. Tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) is an essential co-factor of tyrosine hydroxylase, a rate-limiting enzyme of catecholamine biosynthesis including that of norepinephrine (NA) and nitric oxide (NO) synthase. Although both NA and NO are well-known factors in BAT differentiation, the role of BH4 in the differentiation of BAT is poorly understood. We investigated the role of BH4 in differentiation of BAT using a mouse model of BH4 deficiency, the Hph-1 mouse. Hph-1 neonatal mice exhibit dysplasia of BAT as well as attenuated thermogenesis-related gene expressions (UCP1, Dio2, Pgc1a) compared with control mice. As differentiation capacity is considered to be at maximum during late gestation, we administered BH4 to fetal Hph-1 mice via placental transfer using intraperitoneal injection to pregnant Hph-1 mice for 6 days just before birth. Maternal BH4 supplementation ameliorated dysplasia of neonatal BAT and restored thermogenesis-related genes expression. Intriguingly, offspring of the maternal BH4-supplementation group showed less weight gain, ameliorated glucose intolerance, and improved cold tolerance after growth under high fat chow diet. We then evaluated the direct effect of BH4 on brown adipocyte differentiation using brown pre-adipocytes isolated from control and Hph-1 mice. Compared with control mice, brown pre-adipocytes from Hph-1 mice showed reduced differentiation capacity, while BH4 supplementation in brown pre-adipocytes from Hph-1 mice ameliorated differentiation capacity nitric oxide-dependently. Taking these findings together, BH4 plays an integral role in the differentiation of BAT, especially in the fetal period, and may represent a novel target for prevention of metabolic disorders such as obesity and diabetes.


H. Minamino: None. Y. Fujita: None. Y. Oguri: None. T. Goto: None. A. Ohashi: None. F. Furuya: None. N. Isomura: None. T. Kohei: None. Y. Li: None. S. Kawarasaki: None. T. Kawada: None. H. Hasegawa: None. N. Inagaki: Research Support; Self; Astellas Pharma Inc., Drawbridge Health, Japan Tobacco Inc., Kissei Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., Kyowa Hakko Kirin Co., Ltd., Life Scan Japan, Nippon Boehringer Ingelheim Co. Ltd., Novartis Pharma K.K., Novo Nordisk Pharma Ltd.,, Sanofi K.K., Sanwa Kagaku Kenkyusho, Terumo Medical Corporation. Speaker’s Bureau; Self; Astellas Pharma Inc., Merck & Co., Inc., Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation, Nippon Boehringer Ingelheim Co. Ltd., Novo Nordisk Inc., Ono Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited.

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