Brown adipose tissue (BAT) plays an essential role in adaptive thermogenesis in response to environmental changes, such as cold and diet. Targeting BAT and modulating its mass and/or energy-dissipating capacity hold great promise for treatment of metabolic disorders. Expansion of BAT mass through increased cellular proliferation is a fundamental mechanism of cold adaptation. We have recently discovered Fibroblast Growth Factor 9 (FGF-9) as a cold-induced adipokine produced by BAT that regulates BAT mass. Adeno-associated virus (AAV)-mediated overexpression of FGF-9 in vivo increased BAT mass and improved glucose metabolism in obese mice. Additionally, using double thymidine analogue labeling we demonstrated that FGF-9 overexpression in BAT increased cellular proliferation and enhanced cold-induced BAT expansion. Using an adipose tissue-specific Cas9 knock-in mouse model coupled with the AAV-mediated delivery of gRNAs targeting FGF-9, we specifically deleted FGF-9 in BAT and demonstrated that loss of FGF-9 resulted in reduction of cold-induced proliferation of brown adipocyte progenitors, and led to impaired thermogenic capacity. Therefore, FGF-9 is essential for cold-induced formation of new brown adipocytes and long term cold adaptation. Combining the results from these gain- and loss-of-function studies, we conclude that FGF-9 acts as a growth factor for brown adipocyte progenitors to promote BAT expansion in response to cold. These findings provide a novel regulatory mechanism modulating BAT mass, and may ultimately contribute to the development of novel therapeutic strategies to combat obesity and its comorbidities.


F. Shamsi: None. T. Huang: None. Y. Tseng: Other Relationship; Self; Chugai Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.. Research Support; Self; MedImmune.

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