Brown adipose tissue mitochondria express the unique thermogenic uncoupling protein-1. Recently, brown adipocyte progenitors have been identified in the CD34 cell population of human skeletal muscle. The aims of this study were firstly to determine if obesity and diabetes have altered amounts of muscle brown adipocyte progenitors and, secondly, to establish if the latter are correlated with clinical parameters of obesity and diabetes. Body mass index (BMI), plasma glucose, insulin, cholesterol and triglycerides as well as homeostasis model assessment were measured in lean (n=10), obese (n=18) and obese-diabetic (n=15) subjects and muscle biopsies were taken from the rectus abdominus. CD34 being also expressed on endothelial cells, we measured CD31, another endothelial marker, and expressed the brown adipocyte progenitors, as the CD34CD31 mRNA ratio. The latter was significantly reduced in the obese vs lean subjects suggesting a smaller pool of brown adipocyte progenitors. More strinkingly, for lean and obese subjects negative correlations were observed between the CD34CD31 mRNA ratios and BMI, fasting insulin levels and homeostasis model assessment. These correlations highlight the potential physiological relevance of the muscle CD34CD31 mRNA ratio.

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International Journal of Obesity
Biophysical Genomics, Department Cell Biology & Genetics

Russell, A., Crisan, M., Léger, J. M., Corselli, M., McAinch, A., O'Brien, P., … Giacobino, J. (2012). Brown adipocyte progenitor population is modified in obese and diabetic skeletal muscle. International Journal of Obesity, 36(1), 155–158. doi:10.1038/ijo.2011.85