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L-Theanine Activates the Browning of White Adipose Tissue through the AMPK/α-Ketoglutarate/Prdm16 Axis and Ameliorates Diet-induced Obesity in Mice

posted on 16.04.2021, 15:37 by Wan-Qiu Peng, Gang Xiao, Bai-Yu Li, Ying-Ying Guo, Liang Guo, Qi-Qun Tang
L-Theanine is a nonprotein amino acid with much beneficial efficacy. We found that intraperitoneal treatment of the mice with L-Theanine(100mg/kg/day) enhanced adaptive thermogenesis and induced the browning of inguinal white adipose tissue (iWAT) with elevated expression of Prdm16, Ucp1 and other thermogenic genes. Meanwhile, administration of the mice with L-Theanine increased energy expenditure. In vitro studies indicated that L-Theanine induced the development of brown-like features in adipocytes. The shRNA-mediated depletion of Prdm16 blunted the role of L-Theanine in promoting the brown-like phenotypes in adipocytes and in the iWAT of mice. L-Theanine treatment enhanced AMPKα phosphorylation both in adipocytes and in iWAT. Knockdown of AMPKα ablolished L-Theanine-induced upregulation of Prdm16 and adipocytes browning. L-Theanine increased the α-ketoglutarate (α-KG) level in adipocytes, which may increase the transcription of Prdm16 by inducing active DNA demethylation on its promoter. AMPK activation was required for L-Theanine-induced increase of α-KG and DNA demethylation on Prdm16 promoter. Moreover, intraperitoneal administration with L-Theanine ameliorated obesity, improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, and reduced plasma triglyceride, total cholesterol and free fatty acid in the high fat diet-fed mice. Our results suggest a potential role of L-Theanine in combating diet-induced obesity in mice, which may involve L-Theanine-induced browning of white adipose tissue.


This study was supported by the National Key R&D Program of China (2018YFA0800401) to Q.-Q.T., National Natural Science Foundation (NSFC) grants (32070751 and 31871435 to L.G., 81730021 and 32070760 to Q.-Q.T.).