Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is key to energy homeostasis. By virtue of its thermogenic potential, it may dissipate excessive energy, regulate body weight and increase insulin sensitivity. Catecholamines are critically involved in the regulation of BAT thermogenesis, yet research has focussed on the effects of noradrenaline and adrenaline. Some evidence suggests a role of dopamine (DA) in BAT thermogenesis, but the cellular mechanisms involved have not been addressed. We employed our extensively characterised murine brown adipocyte cells. D1-like and D2-like receptors were detectable at the protein level. Stimulation with DA caused an increase in cAMP concentrations. Oxygen consumption rates (OCR), mitochondrial membrane potential (Δψm) and uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) levels increased after 24 h of treatment with either DA or a D1-like specific receptor agonist. A D1-like receptor antagonist abolished the DA-mediated effect on OCR, Δψm and UCP1. DA induced the release of fatty acids, which did not additionally alter DA-mediated increases of OCR. Mitochondrial mass (as determined by (i) CCCP- and oligomycin-mediated effects on OCR and (ii) immunoblot analysis of mitochondrial proteins) also increased within 24 h. This was accompanied by an increase in peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma co-activator 1 alpha protein levels. Also, DA caused an increase in p38 MAPK phosphorylation and pharmacological inhibition of p38 MAPK abolished the DA-mediated effect on Δψm. In summary, our study is the first to reveal direct D1-like receptor and p38 MAPK-mediated increases of thermogenesis and mitochondrial mass in brown adipocytes. These results expand our understanding of catecholaminergic effects on BAT thermogenesis.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)