Brown and beige adipocytes are enriched in mitochondria with uncoupling protein-1 (UCP1) to generate heat instead of ATP contributing to healthy energy balance. There are few human cellular models to reveal regulatory networks in adipocyte browning and key targets for enhancing thermogenesis in obesity. The Simpson-Golabi-Behmel syndrome (SGBS) preadipocyte line has been a useful tool to study human adipocyte biology. Here we report that SGBS cells, which are comparable to subcutaneous adipose-derived stem cells, carry an FTO risk allele. Upon sustained PPARγ stimulation or irisin (a myokine released in response to exercise) treatment, SGBS cells differentiated into beige adipocytes exhibiting multilocular lipid droplets, high UCP1 content with induction of typical browning genes (Cidea, Elovl3) and the beige marker Tbx1. The autocrine mediator BMP7 led to moderate browning with the upregulation of the classical brown marker Zic1 instead of Tbx1. Thermogenesis potential resulted from PPARγ stimulation, irisin and BMP7 can be activated in UCP1-dependent and the beige specific, creatine phosphate cycle mediated way. The beige phenotype, maintained under long-term (28 days) conditions, was partially reversed by withdrawal of PPARγ ligand. Thus, SGBS cells can serve as a cellular model for both white and sustainable beige adipocyte differentiation and function.
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