Abstract

Interorgan crosstalk via secreted hormones and metabolites is a fundamental aspect of mammalian metabolic physiology. Beyond the highly specialized endocrine cells, peripheral tissues are emerging as an important source of metabolic hormones that influence energy and nutrient metabolism and contribute to disease pathogenesis. Neuregulin 4 (Nrg4) is a fat-derived hormone that protects mice from nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and NASH-associated liver cancer by shaping hepatic lipid metabolism and the liver immune microenvironment. Despite its enriched expression in brown fat, whether NRG4 plays a role in thermogenic response and mediates the metabolic benefits of cold exposure are areas that remain unexplored. Here we show that Nrg4 expression in inguinal white adipose tissue (iWAT) is highly responsive to chronic cold exposure. Nrg4 deficiency impairs beige fat induction and renders mice more susceptible to diet-induced metabolic disorders under mild cold conditions. Using mice with adipocyte and hepatocyte-specific Nrg4 deletion, we reveal that adipose tissue–derived NRG4, but not hepatic NRG4, is essential for beige fat induction following cold acclimation. Furthermore, treatment with recombinant NRG4-Fc fusion protein promotes beige fat induction in iWAT and improves metabolic health in mice with diet-induced obesity. These findings highlight a critical role of NRG4 in mediating beige fat induction and preserving metabolic health under mild cold conditions.

Authors

Zhimin Chen, Peng Zhang, Tongyu Liu, Xiaoxue Qiu, Siming Li, Jiandie D. Lin

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