Mild mitochondrial uncoupling induces HSL/ATGL-independent lipolysis relying on a form of autophagy in 3T3-L1 adipocytes

Stéphane Demine, Silvia Veronica Tejerina Vargas, Benoît Bihin, Marc Thiry, Reddy Nagabushana, Patricia Renard, Martine Raes, Michel Jadot, Thierry Arnould

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Obesity is characterized by an excessive triacylglycerol accumulation in white adipocytes. Various mechanisms allowing the tight regulation of triacylglycerol storage and mobilization by lipid droplet-associated proteins as well as lipolytic enzymes have been identified. Increasing energy expenditure by inducing a mild uncoupling of mitochondria in adipocytes might represent a putative interesting anti-obesity strategy as it reduces the adipose tissue triacylglycerol content (limiting alterations caused by cell hypertrophy) by stimulating lipolysis through yet unknown mechanisms, limiting the adverse effects of adipocyte hypertrophy. Herein, the molecular mechanisms involved in lipolysis induced by a mild uncoupling of mitochondria in white 3T3-L1 adipocytes were characterized. Mitochondrial uncoupling-induced lipolysis was found to be independent from canonical pathways that involve lipolytic enzymes such as HSL and ATGL. Finally, enhanced lipolysis in response to mitochondrial uncoupling relies on a form of autophagy as lipid droplets are captured by endolysosomal vesicles. This new mechanism of triacylglycerol breakdown in adipocytes exposed to mild uncoupling provides new insights on the biology of adipocytes dealing with mitochondria forced to dissipate energy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1247-1265
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Cellular Physiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018


  • mitochondrial uncoupling; lipolysis; autophagy; HSL; ATGL; adipocytes; lipid metabolism; glycerol
  • HSL
  • autophagy
  • ATGL
  • lipid metabolism
  • mitochondrial uncoupling
  • lipolysis
  • adipocytes
  • glycerol


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