In vivo emergence of beige-like fat in chickens as physiological adaptation to cold environments

Rina Sotome, Akira Hirasawa, Motoi Kikusato, Taku Amo, Kyohei Furukawa, Anna Kuriyagawa, Kouichi Watanabe, Anne Collin, Hitoshi Shirakawa, Ryota Hirakawa, Yuta Tanitaka, Hideki Takahashi, Guoyao Wu, Tomonori Nochi, Tsuyoshi Shimmura, Craig H. Warden, Masaaki Toyomizu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


While it has been hypothesized that brown adipocytes responsible for mammalian thermogenesis are absent in birds, the existence of beige fat has yet to be studied directly. The present study tests the hypothesis that beige fat emerges in birds as a mechanism of physiological adaptation to cold environments. Subcutaneous neck adipose tissue from cold-acclimated or triiodothyronine (T3)-treated chickens exhibited increases in the expression of avian uncoupling protein (avUCP, an ortholog of mammalian UCP2 and UCP3) gene and some known mammalian beige adipocyte-specific markers. Morphological characteristics of white adipose tissues of treated chickens showed increased numbers of both small and larger clusters of multilocular fat cells within the tissues. Increases in protein levels of avUCP and mitochondrial marker protein, voltage-dependent anion channel, and immunohistochemical analysis for subcutaneous neck fat revealed the presence of potentially thermogenic mitochondria-rich cells. This is the first evidence that the capacity for thermogenesis may be acquired by differentiating adipose tissue into beige-like fat for maintaining temperature homeostasis in the subcutaneous fat ‘neck warmer’ in chickens exposed to a cold environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-393
Number of pages13
JournalAmino Acids
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Mar


  • Avian models
  • Beige fat
  • Cold adaptation
  • Thermogenesis
  • avUCP


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