Activated beige adipocytes have therapeutic potential due to their ability to improve glucose and lipid homeostasis. To date, the origin of beige adipocytes remains enigmatic. Whether beige cells arise through de novo differentiation from resident precursors or through reprogramming of mature white adipocytes has been a topic of intense discussion. Here, we offer our perspective on the natural origin of beige adipocytes in mice. In particular, we revisit recent lineage-tracing studies that shed light on this issue and offer new insight into how environmental housing temperatures early in life influence the mode of beige adipocyte biogenesis upon cold exposure later in life. We suggest a unified model in which beige adipocytes (UCP1+ multilocular cells) in rodents initially arise predominantly from progenitors (i.e., de novo beige adipogenesis) upon the first exposure to cold temperatures and then interconvert between “dormant beige” and “active beige” phenotypes (i.e., beige cell activation) upon subsequent changes in environmental temperature. Importantly, we highlight experimental considerations needed to visualize de novo adipogenesis versus beige cell activation in mice. A precise understanding of the cellular origins of beige adipocytes emanating in response to physiological and pharmacological stimuli may better inform therapeutic strategies to recruit beige adipocytes in vivo.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Internal Medicine
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism