Robin van Eenige, MSc

The prevalence of obesity and associated disorders are reaching epidemic proportions. It has become increasingly clear that brown adipose tissue (BAT) is an important player in triglyceride metabolism, as this tissue is capable of burning large amounts of triglyceride-derived fatty acids to produce heat. Besides lowering plasma triglyceride levels, this thermogenic activity of BAT allows for lowering of plasma cholesterol levels by accelerating hepatic uptake of cholesterol-enriched lipoprotein remnants, thereby attenuating atherosclerosis development. This makes BAT an interesting target to prevent cardiovascular diseases.

Of key importance in modulating BAT activity are G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), including the β3-adrenergic receptor (ADRB3), the cannabinoid type 1 receptor (CB1R) and the GLP-1 receptor (GLP1R). For example, we have shown that ADRB3 agonism acutely activates BAT and promotes the turnover of atherogenic lipoproteins, while increasing HDL-mediated reverse cholesterol transport, and our preliminary data suggests that inhibition of the CB1R attenuates dyslipidemia in a similar way. Also, we observed that treatment of mice with the GLP1R agonist exenatide largely increases the uptake of glucose and triglyceride-derived fatty acids by BAT, and our preliminary data indicates that exenatide promotes BAT activity also in humans. My research focusses on further studying the role of GPCRs in energy metabolism and atherosclerosis development and delineate the cellular mechanisms involved in these effects.