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Wt1 haploinsufficiency induces browning of epididymal fat and alleviates metabolic dysfunction in mice on high-fat diet – published online 30/11/2021

Kirschner graphical abstract

Karin M. Kirschner, Anna Foryst-Ludwig, Sabrina Gohlke, Chen Li, Roberto E. Flores, Ulrich Kintscher, Michael Schupp, Tim J. Schulz, Holger Scholz

The induction of thermogenically active beige adipocytes in white adipose tissue (WAT) is a key feature of WAT browning. Browning has recently gained interest for its potential use to enhance energy expenditure. Beige adipocytes can be readily induced in subcutaneous WAT of mice, whereas visceral WAT is more resistant to browning. In this issue, Kirschner et al ( show that otherwise healthy mice, heterozygous for the Wilms tumour gene, Wt1, display morphological and genetic signs of browning in their visceral WAT. Strikingly, Wt1 heterozygosity improved whole-body glucose tolerance and prevented severe hepatic steatosis under a high-fat diet. Mechanistically, the authors identified WT1 as an upstream regulator of Aldh1a1 and Zfp423, key suppressors of the thermogenic programme in adipocytes. Their data provide evidence that WT1 downregulates thermogenic genes and functions as a white adipocyte determination factor in visceral WAT. The authors conclude that targeting Wt1 expression in visceral fat may offer a promising novel approach to fight metabolic disorders.

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