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Rose Kohlie, Nina Perwitz, Julia Resch, Sebastian M Schmid, Hendrik Lehnert, Johannes Klein and K Alexander Iwen

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.

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Sogol Gachkar, Sebastian Nock, Cathleen Geissler, Rebecca Ölkrug, Kornelia Johann, Julia Resch, Awahan Rahman, Anders Arner, Henriette Kirchner and Jens Mittag

It is well established that thyroid hormones are required for cardiovascular functions; however, the molecular mechanisms remain incompletely understood, especially the individual contributions of genomic and non-genomic signalling pathways. In this study, we dissected how thyroid hormones modulate aortic contractility.

To test the immediate effects of thyroid hormones on vasocontractility, we used a wire-myograph to record the contractile response of dissected mouse aortas to the adrenergic agonist phenylephrine in the presence of different doses of T3 (3,3’,5-triiodothyronine). Interestingly, we observed reduced vasoconstriction under low and high T3 concentrations, indicating an inversed U-shape curve with maximal constrictive capacity at euthyroid conditions.

We then tested for possible genomic actions of thyroid hormones on vasocontractility by treating mice for 4 days with 1mg/L thyroxine in drinking water. The study revealed that in contrast to the non-genomic actions the aortas of these animals were hyperresponsive to the contractile stimulus, an effect not observed in endogenously hyperthyroid TR knockout mice. To identify targets of genomic thyroid hormone action, we analyzed aortic gene expression by microarray, revealing several altered genes including the well-known thyroid hormone target gene hairless.

Taken together, the findings demonstrate that thyroid hormones regulate aortic tone through genomic and non-genomic actions, although genomic actions seem to prevail in vivo. Moreover, we identified several novel thyroid hormone target genes that could provide a better understanding of the molecular changes occuring in the hyperthyroid aorta.