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Thermogenic Capacity of Human White-Fat: The Actual Picture

Petros C. Dinas
Argyro Krase
Eleni Nintou
Alexandros Georgakopoulos
Marnie Granzotto
Marinos Metaxas
Eleni Karachaliou
Marco Rossato
Roberto Vettor
Panagiotis Georgoulias
Athanasios Z. Jamurtas
John Koutsikos
Konstantinos Athanasiou
Leonidas G. Ioannou
Paraskevi Gkiata
Andres E. Carrillo
Yiannis Koutedakis
George S. Metsios
Tiago S. Mayor
Sofia Chatziioannou
3 and
Andreas D. Flouris
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FAME Laboratory, Department of Exercise Science, University of Thessaly, Trikala 42100, Greece
Faculty of Education Health and Wellbeing, University of Wolverhampton, Walsall, West Midlands WS1 3BD, UK
PET/CT Department, Biomedical Research Foundation, Academy of Athens, Athens 11527, Greece
Department of Medicine—DIMED, Internal Medicine 3, University of Padova, 35122 Padova, Italy
Department of Clinical and Laboratory Research, Medical School, University of Thessaly, Volos 41500, Greece
School of Physical Education and Exercise Science, University of Thessaly, Trikala 42100, Greece
401 General Military Hospital, Athens 11525, Greece
Department of Movement Science, Chatham University, Pittsburgh, PA 15232, USA
SIMTECH Laboratory, Transport Phenomena Research Centre, Engineering Faculty of Porto University, 4200-465 Porto, Portugal
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Presented at the 9th Greek Conference of Biochemistry and Physiology of Exercise, Thessaloniki, Greece, 18–20 October 2019.
These authors contributed equally.
Proceedings 2019, 25(1), 2;
Published: 29 August 2019
(This article belongs to the Proceedings of The 9th Conference of Biochemistry and Physiology of Exercise)


AIM: Cold exposure and exercise may increase thermogenic capacity of white adipose tissue (WAT), which could subsequently enhance energy expenditure and body weight loss. We aimed to identify possible alterations in uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1)—the main biomarker of thermogenic activation—in human WAT due to both cold exposure and exercise, as well as the link between environmental temperature and thermogenic capacity of human WAT. MATERIAL & METHOD: We conducted four human experimental studies and two systematic reviews and meta-analyses—PROSPERO registration CRD42019120116, CRD42019120213. RESULTS: UCP1 mRNA was higher in winter than in summer [t(30) = 2.232, p = 0.03] in human WAT and our meta-analysis showed a main effect of cold exposure on human UCP1 mRNA [standard mean difference (Std-md) = 1.81, confidence interval (CI) = 0.50–3.13, p = 0.007]. However, UCP1 mRNA/protein expressions displayed no associations with %fat mass or BMI (p > 0.05, Cohen’s f2 < 0.20). Both a 2-hour cooling and a non-cooling protocol preceding the positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) measurements revealed no association between environmental temperature and standardised uptake value (SUVmax) of human WAT, as well as no mean differences in SUVmax-WAT-activity between winter and summer. An 8-week exercise program had no effect on UCP1 of human WAT or on body composition. Our meta-analysis also revealed: (a) no effect of chronic exercise on human UCP1 mRNA, (b) a main effect of chronic exercise on UCP1 protein concentrations (Std-md = 0.59, CI = 0.03–1.16, p = 0.04) and UCP1 mRNA (Std-md = 1.76, CI = 0.48–3.04, p = 0.007) in WAT of normal diet animals, c) a main effect of chronic exercise on UCP1 mRNA (Std-md = 2.94, CI = 0.24–5.65, p = 0.03) and UCP1 protein concentrations (Std-md = 2.06, CI = 0.07–4.05, p = 0.04) of high-fat diet animals. CONCLUSIONS: Cold exposure represents a main stimulus for increased thermogenic capacity in human white adipocytes; however, this may have no impact on body weight loss. Chronic exercise may represent no major stimulus for UCP1 induced in human white adipocytes, while in animals it increases UCP1 gene independently of their diet. Therefore, evidence from animal studies regarding UCP1 gene activation in white adipocytes may not be applicable in humans. Finally, the identification of human WAT thermogenic capacity via PET/CT examination may be optimal with both a cooling and a non-cooling protocol.

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MDPI and ACS Style

Dinas, P.C.; Krase, A.; Nintou, E.; Georgakopoulos, A.; Granzotto, M.; Metaxas, M.; Karachaliou, E.; Rossato, M.; Vettor, R.; Georgoulias, P.; et al. Thermogenic Capacity of Human White-Fat: The Actual Picture. Proceedings 2019, 25, 2.

AMA Style

Dinas PC, Krase A, Nintou E, Georgakopoulos A, Granzotto M, Metaxas M, Karachaliou E, Rossato M, Vettor R, Georgoulias P, et al. Thermogenic Capacity of Human White-Fat: The Actual Picture. Proceedings. 2019; 25(1):2.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Dinas, Petros C., Argyro Krase, Eleni Nintou, Alexandros Georgakopoulos, Marnie Granzotto, Marinos Metaxas, Eleni Karachaliou, Marco Rossato, Roberto Vettor, Panagiotis Georgoulias, and et al. 2019. "Thermogenic Capacity of Human White-Fat: The Actual Picture" Proceedings 25, no. 1: 2.

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