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Intercellular and inter-organ crosstalk in browning of white adipose tissue: molecular mechanism and therapeutic complications
Lai Yee Cheong1,2 , Aimin Xu1,2,3,*
1The State Key Laboratory of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
2Department of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
3Department of Pharmacology and Pharmacy, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
*Correspondence to:Aimin Xu , Email:amxu@hku.hk
J Mol Cell Biol, Volume 13, Issue 7, July 2021, Pages 466-479  https://doi.org/10.1093/jmcb/mjab038
Keyword: adipose tissue browning, circulating factors, energy homeostasis, adipose biology, obesity

Adipose tissue (AT) is highly plastic and heterogeneous in response to environmental and nutritional changes. The development of heat-dissipating beige adipocytes in white AT (WAT) through a process known as browning (or beiging) has garnered much attention as a promising therapeutic strategy for obesity and its related metabolic complications. This is due to its inducibility in response to thermogenic stimulation and its association with improved metabolic health. WAT consists of adipocytes, nerves, vascular endothelial cells, various types of immune cells, adipocyte progenitor cells, and fibroblasts. These cells contribute to the formation of beige adipocytes through the release of protein factors that significantly influence browning capacity. In addition, inter-organ crosstalk is also important for beige adipocyte biogenesis. Here, we summarize recent findings on fat depot-specific differences, secretory factors participating in intercellular and inter-organ communications that regulate the recruitment of thermogenic beige adipocytes, as well as challenges in targeting beige adipocytes as a potential anti-obese therapy.