Menthol Makes Mice Feel Cool and Get Hot

Menthol consumption makes mice feel cool, literally. The exposure mimics chronic cold exposure and results in increased body temperature and resistance to dietary obesity.

Journal of Molecular Cell Biology -- April 2012, 4 (2)

Journal of Molecular Cell Biology — April 2012, 4 (2)

J Mol Cell Biol (2012) 4 (2): 88-96. doi: 10.1093/jmcb/mjs001

http://jmcb.oxfordjournals.org/content/4/2/88.full

Activation of the cold-sensing TRPM8 channel triggers UCP1-dependent thermogenesis and prevents obesity

Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is an energy-expending organ that produces heat. Expansion or activation of BAT prevents obesity and diabetes. Chronic cold exposure enhances thermogenesis in BAT through uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) activation triggered via a β-adrenergic pathway. Here, we report that the cold-sensing transient receptor potential melastatin 8 (TRPM8) is functionally present in mouse BAT. Challenging brown adipocytes with menthol, a TRPM8 agonist, up-regulates UCP1 expression and requires protein kinase A activation. Upon mimicking long-term cold exposure with chronic dietary menthol application, menthol significantly increased the core temperatures and locomotor activity in wild-type mice; these effects were absent in both TRPM8−/− and UCP1−/− mice. Dietary obesity and glucose abnormalities were also prevented by menthol treatment. Our results reveal a previously unrecognized role for TRPM8, suggesting that stimulation of this channel mediates BAT thermogenesis, which could constitute a promising way to treat obesity.

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