Inhibitory Effects of Toll-Like Receptor 4, NLRP3 Inflammasome, and Interleukin-1β on White Adipocyte Browning

Meshail Okla, Walid Zaher, Musaad Alfayez, Soonkyu Chung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Adipose tissue expansion is accompanied by infiltration and accumulation of pro-inflammatory macrophages, which links obesity to pathologic conditions such as type 2 diabetes. However, little is known regarding the role of pro-inflammatory adipose tissue remodeling in the thermogenic activation of brown/beige fat. Here, we investigated the effect of pattern recognition receptors (PRR) activation in macrophages, especially the toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) and Nod-like receptor 3 (NLRP3), on white adipocyte browning. We report that TLR4 activation by lipopolysaccharide repressed white adipocyte browning in response to β3-adrenergic receptor activation and caused ROS production and mitochondrial dysfunction, while genetic deletion of TLR4 protected mitochondrial function and thermogenesis. In addition, activation of NLRP3 inflammasome in macrophages attenuated UCP1 induction and mitochondrial respiration in cultures of primary adipocytes, while the absence of NLRP3 protected UCP1 in adipocytes. The effect of NLRP3 inflammasome activation on browning was mediated by IL-1β signaling, as blocking IL-1 receptor in adipocytes protected thermogenesis. We also report that IL-1β interferes with thermogenesis via oxidative stress stimulation and mitochondrial dysfunction as we observed a statistically significant increase in ROS production, decrease in SOD enzyme activity, and increase in mitochondrial depolarization in adipocytes treated with IL-1β. Collectively, we demonstrated that inflammatory response to obesity, such as TLR4 and NLRP3 inflammasome activation as well as IL-1β secretion, attenuates β3-adrenoreceptor-induced beige adipocyte formation via oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction. Our findings provide insights into targeting innate inflammatory system for enhancement of the adaptive thermogenesis against obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)626-642
Number of pages17
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018


  • IL-1β
  • NLRP3 inflammasome
  • TLR4
  • beige adipocytes
  • brown adipocytes
  • uncoupling protein 1
  • β3-adrenergic receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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