Cold exposure of mice is a common method to stimulate brown adipose tissue (BAT) activity and induce browning of white adipose tissue (WAT) that has beneficial effects on whole-body lipid metabolism, including reduced plasma triglyceride (TG) concentrations. The liver is a key regulatory organ in lipid metabolism as it can take up as well as oxidize fatty acids. The liver can also synthesize, store and secrete TGs in VLDL particles. The effects of cold exposure on murine hepatic lipid metabolism have not been addressed. Here, we report the effects of 24-h exposure to 4°C on parameters of hepatic lipid metabolism of male C57BL/6J mice. Cold exposure increased hepatic TG concentrations by 2-fold (P < 0.05) but reduced hepatic lipogenic gene expression. Hepatic expression of genes encoding proteins involved in cholesterol synthesis and uptake such as the LDL receptor (LDLR) was significantly increased upon cold exposure. Hepatic expression of Cyp7a1 encoding the rate-limiting enzyme in the classical bile acid (BA) synthesis pathway was increased by 4.3-fold (P < 0.05). Hepatic BA concentrations and fecal BA excretion were increased by 2.8- and 1.3-fold, respectively (P < 0.05 for both). VLDL-TG secretion was reduced by approximately 50% after 24 h of cold exposure (P < 0.05). In conclusion, cold exposure has various, likely intertwined effects on the liver that should be taken into account when studying the effects of cold exposure on wholebody metabolism.

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Keywords Apolipoprotein, Cholesterol, Lipid, Liver
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Journal Journal of Endocrinology
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Grefhorst, A, van den Beukel, J.C, Dijk, W. (Wieneke), Steenbergen, J, Voortman, G.J, Leeuwenburgh, S, … Visser, J.A. (2018). Multiple effects of cold exposure on livers of male mice. Journal of Endocrinology, 238(2), 91–106. doi:10.1530/JOE-18-0076