The capacity of brown adipose tissue (BAT) to regulate metabolism through cold-induced thermogenesis and secretion of molecules appeals as a potential therapeutic against metabolic disease. BAT secreted factors have gained interest as they may coordinate the adaptive response to cold and tissue remodeling. Yet, BAT secretory functions need deeper investigation before identifying druggable candidates. Thus, our group aimed to study secreted factors from active brown adipocytes that may sway adipocyte function and/or may orchestrate inter-cellular communications. For this, mRNA levels in mature adipocytes of brown, beige and white adipose depots from mice exposed to 21 days of cold were evaluated using RNA sequencing, and bioinformatic analysis was used to filter for potentially secreted factors. Cxcl12 was found to be the most cold-induced chemokine specifically in BAT. mRNA expression analysis of Cxcl12 by qPCR and fluorescence in-situ hybridization revealed its enrichment in brown adipocytes upon cold. Cold also increased CXCL12 levels in BAT media but not plasma, indicating a potential local action. Cxcl12 knockdown in active brown adipocytes impaired thermogenesis, estimated by Ucp1 gene expression, norepinephrine-induced lipolysis and mitochondrial respiration, despite intact β-adrenergic signaling, as estimated by immunoblotting of phosphorylated proteins. Together, these data suggest that Cxcl12 regulates adipocyte function independently from the β-adrenergic pathway. Additionally, CXCL12 exerted inter-cellular crosstalks by promoting macrophage chemotaxis and neurite outgrowth in vitro.

Here we present CXCL12 as a novel brown adipocyte, cold-induced secreted factor involved in adipocyte function and inter-cellular crosstalk within BAT. Further characterization of the role of CXCL12 and other secreted factors in BAT will provide valuable knowledge on the adaptive mechanisms of BAT to cold and may open new avenues to leverage BAT functions for the treatment of metabolic disease.


M.Agueda oyarzabal: None. M.Tozzi: None. T.W.Schwartz: None. C.C.Schéele: Research Support; Novo Nordisk A/S. B.Emanuelli: None. K.Plucinska: None. M.Isidor: None. L.R.Ingerslev: None. P.Petersen: None. O.Dmytriyeva: None. J.Henningsen: None. E.Brown: None. K.Rupar: None.


Novo Nordisk Foundation (18CC0034900, 19SA0035436); Copenhagen Bioscience PhD Program

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