Uncoupling protein 1 decreases superoxide production in brown adipose tissue mitochondria

Rebecca Oelkrug, Gerhard Heldmaier


In thermogenic brown adipose tissue, uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) catalyzes the dissipation of mitochondrial proton motive force as heat. In a cellular environment of high oxidative capacity such as brown adipose tissue (BAT), mitochondrial uncoupling could also reduce deleterious reactive oxygen species, but the specific involvement of UCP1 in this process is disputed. By comparing brown adipose tissue mitochondria of wild type mice and UCP1-ablated litter mates, we show that UCP1 potently reduces mitochondrial superoxide production after cold acclimation and during fatty acid oxidation. We address the sites of superoxide production and suggest diminished probability of "reverse electron transport" facilitated by uncoupled respiration as the underlying mechanism of reactive oxygen species suppression in BAT. Furthermore, ablation of UCP1 represses the cold-stimulated increase of substrate oxidation normally seen in active BAT, resulting in lower superoxide production, presumably avoiding deleterious oxidative damage. We conclude that UCP1 allows high oxidative capacity without promoting oxidative damage by simultaneously lowering superoxide production.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number29
Pages (from-to)21961-21968
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 16.07.2010


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