In the absence of UCP1-mediated diet-induced thermogenesis, obesity is augmented even in the obesity-resistant 129S mouse strain



The attractive tenet that recruitment and activation of brown adipose tissue (BAT) and uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) could counteract the development of obesity and its comorbidities in humans has been experimentally corroborated mainly by experiments demonstrating that UCP1-ablated mice on a C57Bl/6 background (exempt from thermal stress) become more obese when fed a high-fat diet. However, concerns may be raised that this outcome of UCP1 ablation is restricted to this very special inbred and particularly obesity-prone mouse strain. Therefore, we have examined to which degree UCP1 ablation has similar metabolic effects in a mouse strain known to be obesity resistant: the 129S strain. For this, male 129S2/sv or 129SV/Pas mice and corresponding UCP1-knockout mice were fed chow or a high-fat or a cafeteria diet for 4 wk. The absence of UCP1 augmented obesity (weight gain, body fat mass, %body fat, fat depot size) in high-fat diet- and cafeteria-fed mice, with a similar or lower food intake, indicating that, when present, UCP1 indeed decreases metabolic efficiency. The increased obesity was due to a decrease in energy expenditure. The consumption of a high-fat or cafeteria diet increased total BAT UCP1 protein levels in wild-type mice, and correspondingly, high-fat diet and cafeteria diet-fed mice demonstrated increased norepinephrine-induced oxygen consumption. There was a positive correlation between body fat and total BAT UCP1 protein content. No evidence for diet-induced adrenergic thermogenesis was found in UCP1-ablated mice. Thus, the obesity-reducing effect of UCP1 is not restricted to a particular, and perhaps not representative, mouse strain.