Journal of lipid research

All-trans retinoic acid induces oxidative phosphorylation and mitochondria biogenesis in adipocytes.

PMID 25914170


A positive effect of all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) on white adipose tissue (WAT) oxidative and thermogenic capacity has been described and linked to an in vivo fat-lowering effect of ATRA in mice. However, little is known about the effects of ATRA on mitochondria in white fat. Our objective has been to characterize the effect of ATRA on mitochondria biogenesis and oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) capacity in mature white adipocytes. Transcriptome analysis, oxygraphy, analysis of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), and flow cytometry-based analysis of mitochondria density were performed in mature 3T3-L1 adipocytes after 24 h incubation with ATRA (2 µM) or vehicle. Selected genes linked to mitochondria biogenesis and function and mitochondria immunostaining were analyzed in WAT tissues of ATRA-treated as compared with vehicle-treated mice. ATRA upregulated the expression of a large set of genes linked to mtDNA replication and transcription, mitochondrial biogenesis, and OXPHOS in adipocytes, as indicated by transcriptome analysis. Oxygen consumption rate, mtDNA content, and staining of mitochondria were increased in the ATRA-treated adipocytes. Similar results were obtained in WAT depots of ATRA-treated mice. We conclude that ATRA impacts mitochondria in adipocytes, leading to increased OXPHOS capacity and mitochondrial content in these cells.