Chronic alcohol consumption decreases brown adipose tissue mass and disrupts thermoregulation: a possible role for altered retinoid signaling

Blaner, William S.; Gao, Madeleine Ann; Jiang, Hongfeng; Dalmer, Timothy R. A.; Hu, Xueyuan J.; Ginsberg, Henry N.; Clugston, Robin D.

Retinoic acid, an active metabolite of dietary vitamin A, acts as a ligand for nuclear receptor transcription factors with more than 500 known target genes. It is becoming increasingly clear that alcohol has a significant impact on cellular retinoic acid metabolism, with resultant effects on its function. Here, we test the hypothesis that chronic alcohol consumption impairs retinoic acid signaling in brown adipose tissue (BAT), leading to impaired BAT function and thermoregulation. All studies were conducted in age-matched, male mice consuming alcohol-containing liquid diets. Alcohol’s effect on BAT was assessed by histology, qPCR, HPLC, LC/MS and measures of core body temperature. Our data show that chronic alcohol consumption decreases BAT mass, with a resultant effect on thermoregulation. Follow-up mechanistic studies reveal a decreased triglyceride content in BAT, as well as impaired retinoic acid homeostasis, associated with decreased BAT levels of retinoic acid in alcohol-consuming mice. Our work highlights a hitherto uncharacterized effect of alcohol on BAT function, with possible implications for thermoregulation and energy metabolism in drinkers. Our data indicate that alcohol’s effects on brown adipose tissue may be mediated through altered retinoic acid signaling.


Also Published In

Scientific Reports

More About This Work

Academic Units
Published Here
August 30, 2017