Thyroid hormones (TH) are of central importance for thermogenesis, energy homeostasis and metabolism. Here, we will discuss these aspects by focussing on the physiological aspects of TH-dependent regulation in response to cold exposure and fasting, which will be compared to alterations in primary hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. In particular, we will summarise current knowledge on regional thyroid hormone status in the central nervous system (CNS) and in peripheral cells. In contrast to hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, where parallel changes are observed, local alterations in the CNS differ to peripheral compartments when induced by cold exposure or fasting. Cold exposure is associated with low hypothalamic TH concentrations but increased TH levels in the periphery. Fasting results in a reversed TH pattern. Primary hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism disrupt these fine-tuned adaptive mechanisms and both, the hypothalamus and the periphery, will have the same TH status. These important mechanisms need to be considered when discussing thyroid hormone replacement and other therapeutical interventions to modulate TH status.
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K Alexander Iwen, Rebecca Oelkrug, and Georg Brabant
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.