Chronic cold exposure results in subcutaneous adipose tissue browning and altered global metabolism in Qinghai-Tibetan plateau pika (Ochotona curzoniae)

Jia Li, Quanyu Yang, Zhenzhong Bai, Wenhua Zhou, Gregg L Semenza, Ri Li Ge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The plateau pika (Ochotona curzoniae), one of the indigenous animals of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, is adapted to life in a cold and hypoxic environment. We conducted a series of genomic, proteomic and morphological studies to investigate whether changes in energy metabolism contribute to adaptation of the plateau pika to cold stress by analyzing summer and winter cohorts. The winter group showed strong morphological and histological features of brown adipose tissue (BAT) in subcutaneous white adipose tissue (sWAT). To obtain molecular evidence of browning of sWAT, we performed reverse transcription and quantitative real-time PCR, which revealed that BAT-specific genes, including uncoupling protein 1 (UCP-1) and PPAR-γ coactivator 1α (PGC-1α), were highly expressed in sWAT from the winter group. Compared with the summer group, Western blot analysis also confirmed that UCP-1, PGC-1α and Cox4 protein levels were significantly increased in sWAT from the winter group. Increased BAT mass in the inter-scapular region of the winter group was also observed. These results suggest that the plateau pika adapts to cold by browning sWAT and increasing BAT in order to increase thermogenesis. These changes are distinct from the previously reported adaptation of highland deer mice. Understanding the regulatory mechanisms underlying this adaptation may lead to novel therapeutic strategies for treating obesity and metabolic disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018

Keywords

  • Brown adipose tissue
  • Cold adaptation
  • Energy metabolism
  • Plateau pika
  • Thermogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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