MicroRNAs are key regulators of brown adipogenesis

Joseph Yi Zhou, Lixin Li

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The recent discovery of microRNA, thousands of short, non-coding strands of RNA that regulate gene expressions on the transcriptional level throughout the body, raises the possibility of their roles as therapeutic targets in the treatment of a diverse range of diseases including diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. Specifically, their potential as therapeutic targets in the treatment of obesity has been highlighted. Brown adipose tissue containing a large number of mitochondria and expressing Ucp-1 is metabolically active through dissipating energy as heat in cold temperatures. Brown adipose, which was previously thought to be present only in neonatal and infants, has been recently unexpectedly identified in various anatomical regions of the adult human body. Furthermore, brown adipocytes have been shown to originate from skeletal and cardiovascular myoblast progenitor cells. Several identified microRNAs participate in the regulation of brown adipocyte differentiation through pathways involving the Prdm16 and C/ebp-β program. These miRNAs are potential therapeutic targets in the induction of brown adipocyte lineage differentiation from myoblast and white adipose, through which the Ucp-1 expression is regulated to increase calorie expenditure and reduce body weight in obese individuals. This review focuses on the current understanding of miRNAs on the regulation of brown adipogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1590-1595
Number of pages6
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2014


  • Beige fat
  • Brown adipocytes
  • MicroRNA
  • Obesity
  • Prdm16
  • White adipose tissue


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