Continuous intake of Trehalose induces white adipose tissue Browning and Enhances energy metabolism

Nutr. Metab. 2020;16:45.

Chikako Arai, Norie Arai, Shigeyuki Arai, Chiyo Yoshizane, Satomi Miyata, Akiko Mizote, Aki Suyama, Shin Endo, Toshio Ariyasu, Hitoshi Mitsuzumi & Shimpei Ushio



Trehalose is well known as a functional disaccharide with anti-metabolic activities such as suppression of adipocyte hypertrophy in mice and alleviation of impaired glucose tolerance in humans. Recently, a new type of adipocyte beige cells, involved in so-called white adipocyte tissue (WAT) browning, has received much attention as a target for adaptive thermogenesis. To clarify the relationship between adipocyte hypertrophy suppression and beige cells involved in thermogenesis, we examined the effect of trehalose on the changes in beige adipocytes in mice under normal dietary conditions.


Mice fed a normal diet were administered water containing 0.3% (W/V) trehalose for 16 weeks, 0.3% (W/V) maltose, or water without saccharide (controls). Body temperature and non-fasting blood glucose levels were measured every 3 weeks. After 16 weeks of these treatments, mesenteric and inguinal adipose tissues were collected for measuring adipocyte size, counting the number of UCP1 positive cells by image analysis, and preparing mRNA to analyze beige adipocyte-related gene expression.


Mice administered a continuous intake of trehalose exhibited a thermogenic ability as represented by an increase in rectal temperature, which was maintained at a relatively high level from 3 to 9 weeks and was significantly higher at 15 weeks in comparison with that of the maltose group. In addition to the reduced hypertrophy of mesenteric and inguinal adipose tissues, the trehalose group showed a significant increase in the rates of beige adipocytes in each WAT in comparison with those of the maltose and the water groups. Interestingly, a negative correlation was found between the mean cell sizes of adipocytes and the rates of beige adipocytes in the WAT. Furthermore, real-time PCR showed that the expression of Cidea and Ucp1 mRNAs, which are markers for beige adipocytes in the inguinal adipose tissue, increased in the trehalose group.


Continuous administration of trehalose to mice fed a normal diet induced WAT browning accompanied by suppression of white adipocyte hypertrophy, elevated body temperature and decreased blood glucose levels, which resulted in enhancement of energy metabolism. Therefore, we propose trehalose as a new type of thermogenic dietary component to prevent obesity by promoting WAT browning.

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