We leverage the SM/J mouse to understand glycemic control in obesity. High-fat-fed SM/J mice initially develop poor glucose homeostasis relative to controls. Strikingly, their glycemic dysfunction resolves by 30 weeks of age despite persistent obesity. The mice dramatically expand their brown adipose depots as they resolve glycemic dysfunction. This occurs naturally and spontaneously on a high-fat diet, with no temperature or genetic manipulation. Removal of the brown adipose depot impairs insulin sensitivity, indicating that the expanded tissue is functioning as an insulin-stimulated glucose sink. We describe morphological, physiological, and transcriptomic changes that occur during the brown adipose expansion and remission of glycemic dysfunction, and focus on Sfrp1 (secreted frizzled-related protein 1) as a compelling candidate that may underlie this phenomenon. Understanding how the expanded brown adipose contributes to glycemic control in SM/J mice will open the door for innovative therapies aimed at improving metabolic complications in obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108237
JournalCell Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 6 2020


  • brown adipose
  • glycemic control
  • insulin sensitivity
  • metabolism
  • mouse model
  • obesity
  • transcriptome


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