Liver X receptor β: new player in the regulatory network of thyroid hormone and ‘browning’ of white fat

Yifei Miao, Margaret Warner, Jan Åke Gustafsson

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The recent discovery of browning of white adipose tissue (WAT) has raised great research interest because of its significant potential in counteracting obesity and type II diabetes. However, the mechanisms underlying browning are still poorly understood. Liver X receptors (LXRs) are one class of nuclear receptors, which play a vital role in regulating cholesterol, triglyceride and glucose metabolism. Following our previous finding that LXRs serve as repressors of UCP1 in classic brown adipose tissue in female mice, we found that LXRs, especially LXRβ, also repress the browning process of subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) in male rodents fed a normal diet. Depletion of LXRs activated thyrotropin releasing hormone positive neurons in the paraventricular area of the hypothalamus, and thus stimulated secretion of thyroid-stimulating hormone from the pituitary. Consequently production of thyroid hormones in the thyroid gland and circulating thyroid hormone level were increased. Moreover, the activity of thyroid signaling in SAT was markedly increased. One unexpected finding of our study is that LXRs are indispensable in the thyroid hormone negative feedback loop at the level of the hypothalamus. LXRs maintain expression of thyroid receptors in the brain and when they are inactivated there is no negative feedback of thyroid hormone in the hypothalamus. Together, our findings have uncovered the basis of increased energy expenditure in male LXR knock-out mice and provided support for targeting LXRs in treatment of obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)238-242
Number of pages5
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2 2016


  • HPT axis
  • UCP1
  • beige cells
  • browning of adipose tissue
  • liver X receptors
  • negative feedback loop
  • thyroid hormones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Histology
  • Cell Biology


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