Fibroblast growth factor-21 is expressed in neonatal and pheochromocytoma-induced adult human brown adipose tissue

Elayne Hondares, José M Gallego-Escuredo, Pavel Flachs, Andrea Frontini, Ruben Cereijo, Alberto Goday, Jessica Perugini, Pavel Kopecky, Marta Giralt, Saverio Cinti, Jan Kopecky, Francesc Villarroya
Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental 2014, 63 (3): 312-7

OBJECTIVE: In rodents, brown (BAT) and white (WAT) adipose tissues are targets and expression sites for fibroblast growth factor-21 (FGF21). In contrast, human WAT expresses negligible levels of FGF21. We examined FGF21 expression in human BAT samples, including the induced BAT found in adult patients with pheochromocytoma, and interscapular and visceral BAT from newborns.

METHODS: The expression of FGF21 and uncoupling protein-1 (UCP1, a brown adipocyte marker), was determined by quantitative real-time-PCR and immunoblotting. The transcript levels of marker genes for developmentally-programmed BAT (zinc-finger-protein of the cerebellum-1, ZIC1) and inducible-BAT (cluster of differentiation-137, CD137) were also determined.

RESULTS: FGF21 and UCP1 are significantly expressed in visceral adipose tissue from pheochromocytoma patients, but not in visceral fat from healthy individuals. In neonates, FGF21 and UCP1 are both expressed in visceral and interscapular fat, and their expression levels show a significant positive correlation. Marker gene expression profiles suggest that inducible BAT is present in visceral fat from pheochromocytoma patients and neonates, whereas developmentally-programmed BAT is present in neonatal interscapular fat.

CONCLUSIONS: Human BAT, but not WAT, expresses FGF21. The expression of FGF21 is especially high in inducible, also called beige/brite, neonatal BAT, but it is also found in the interscapular, developmentally-programmed, BAT of neonates.

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