Several dietary compounds that are able to induce the brown fat-like phenotype in white adipocytes have been considered for treatment of obesity due to their ability to increase energy expenditure. Here, we report that limonene induces the brown fat-like phenotype in 3T3-L1 adipocytes by increasing expression of brown adipocyte-specific genes and proteins.Main methods:
Limonene-induced browning in white adipocytes was investigated by determining expression levels of brown fat-specific genes and proteins by real-time RT-PCR, immunoblot analysis, and immunocytochemical staining.Key findings:
Limonene enhanced mitochondrial biogenesis, as evidenced by increased mitochondrial content and immunofluorescent intensity. Limonene also significantly elevated protein levels of HSL, PLIN, p-AMPK, p-ACC, ACO, COX4, CPT1, and CYT C, suggesting its possible role in enhancement of lipolysis and lipid catabolism. Increased expression of PRDM16, UCP1, C/EBPβ, and other brown fat-specific markers by limonene was possibly mediated by activation of β3-adnergenic receptor (β3-AR), as inhibition of β3-AR inhibited up-regulation of brown fat-specific markers. Similarly, limonene-mediated activation of ERK and up-regulation of key brown adipocyte specific markers were eliminated by treatment with ERK antagonist.Significance:
Taken together, these results suggest that limonene induces browning of 3T3-L1 adipocytes via activation of β3-AR and the ERK signaling pathway. In conclusion, our findings suggest that limonene plays a dual modulatory role in induction of the brown adipocyte-like phenotype as well as promotion of lipid metabolism and thus may have potential therapeutic implications for treatment of obesity.