The recent discovery of uncoupling protein (UCP)-2 and UCP-3, and their high expression in skeletal muscle, has renewed interest in a possible role for these proteins in underlying the variability in energy expenditure and therefore metabolic efficiency. Using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, levels of expression of UCP-2 and long and short forms of UCP-3 were measured in skeletal muscle of 19 nondiabetic, male Pima Indians covering a wide range of body weight. Twenty-four-hour energy expenditure was measured in a respiratory chamber in 16 of these individuals. BMI was negatively correlated with the expression levels of the long (r = -0.53, P = 0.025) and short (r = -0.46, P = 0.047) forms of UCP-3. BMI was not correlated with UCP-2 expression. Metabolic rate during sleep, adjusted for fat-free mass and fat mass, was positively correlated with the long form of UCP-3 (r = 0.69, P = 0.006). These results indicate that UCP-3 may be a determinant of energy expenditure and metabolic efficiency in Pima Indians.

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