The prevalence of obesity is increasing globally and is associated with many metabolic disorders, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. In recent years, a number of studies suggest that promotion of white adipose browning represents a promising strategy to combat obesity and its related metabolic disorders. The aim of this study was to identify compounds that induce adipocyte browning and elucidate their mechanism of action. Among the 500 natural compounds screened, a small molecule named Rutaecarpine, was identified as a positive regulator of adipocyte browning both in vitro and in vivo. KEGG pathway analysis from RNA-seq data suggested that the AMPK signaling pathway was regulated by Rutaecarpine, which was validated by Western blot analysis. Furthermore, inhibition of AMPK signaling mitigated the browning effect of Rutaecaripine. The effect of Rutaecaripine on adipocyte browning was also abolished upon deletion of Prdm16, a downstream target of AMPK pathway. In collusion, Rutaecarpine is a potent chemical agent to induce adipocyte browning and may serve as a potential drug candidate to treat obesity.
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