1. Key Laboratory of Agriculture Animal Genetics, Breeding and Reproduction of the Ministry of Education, College of Animal Science and Technology, Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan 430070, China.
2. Hubei Hongshan Laboratory, Wuhan, China.
Mammals maintain a constant core body temperature through adaptive thermogenesis which includes shivering and non-shivering thermogenesis. Non-shivering thermogenesis relies primarily on mitochondrial uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) in thermogenic fat (including brown and beige adipose tissue) to burn substrates, such as fatty acids (FAs), and convert chemical energy into heat. Lipid droplets (LDs), which are organelles that store lipids, are present in large numbers in thermogenic fat and are essential for adipose thermogenesis. Upon cold stimulation, LDs rapidly release FAs through autophagy or lipase-mediated lipolysis and rapidly translocate FAs into the mitochondria by interacting with mitochondria to burn and so promote thermogenesis. In addition, LD proteins promote the expression of UCP1 by activating the transcriptional activity of thermogenesis-related proteins. Here, the progress of research on the important role of LDs in thermogenesis is reviewed, mainly in terms of LD proteins, LD-organelle interactions, and LD autophagy (lipophagy). The emerging rationale for the involvement of LDs in each thermogenic pathway is described and the remaining unanswered questions in this field are highlighted.
Keywords: Lipid droplets, Thermogenesis, Brown/beige adipose tissue, Lipophagy