Stimulation of uncoupling protein 1 expression in brown adipocytes by naturally occurring carotenoids

F. Serra, M. L. Bonet, P. Puigserver, J. Oliver, A. Palou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To assess the effect of naturally occurring carotenoids on brown adipocyte proliferation and differentiation. The rationale behind is that certain carotenoids have provitamin A activity in mammals, and that one of the active forms of vitamin A, (retinoic acid) is known to behave as a transcriptional activator of the key gene for brown fat thermogenesis, the one encoding the uncoupling protein thermogenin (UCP1). DESIGN: Confluent primary cultures of mice brown adipocytes were treated with various concentrations of carotenoids. Cell morphology, total culture protein content, the DNA synthesis rate, and the levels of UCP1, retinoic acid receptor α (RARα) and retinoid X receptor α (RXRα) were analysed. RESULTS: Treatment with β-carotene, α-carotene and lutein promoted UCP1 expression in a dose-dependent manner, with an effectiveness that was related to their potency as vitamin A precursors. Cell morphology, total culture protein content at confluence and DNA synthesis rate were unaffected after carotenoid treatment up to 10 μM. CONCLUSION: The results indicate that carotenoids can positively affect the expression of UCP1 without altering brown adipocyte proliferation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)650-655
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • β-cerotene
  • Brown adipocytes
  • Carotenoids
  • UCP1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Endocrinology
  • Food Science
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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