Cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) antagonism enhances glucose utilisation and activates brown adipose tissue in diet-induced obese mice

M. Bajzer, M. Olivieri, M. K. Haas, P. T. Pfluger, I. J. Magrisso, M. T. Foster, M. H. Tschöp, K. A. Krawczewski-Carhuatanta, D. Cota, S. Obici

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Aims/hypothesis: We examined the physiological mechanisms by which cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) antagonism improves glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity independent of its anorectic and weight-reducing effects, as well as the effects of CB1 antagonism on brown adipose tissue (BAT) function. Methods: Three groups of diet-induced obese mice received for 1 month: vehicle; the selective CB1 antagonist SR141716; or vehicle/pair-feeding. After measurements of body composition and energy expenditure, mice underwent euglycaemic- hyperinsulinaemic clamp studies to assess in vivo insulin action. In separate cohorts, we assessed insulin action in weight-reduced mice with diet-induced obesity (DIO), and the effect of CB1 antagonism on BAT thermogenesis. Surgical denervation of interscapular BAT (iBAT) was carried out in order to study the requirement for the sympathetic nervous system in mediating the effects of CB1 antagonism on BAT function. Results: Weight loss associated with chronic CB1 antagonism was accompanied by increased energy expenditure, enhanced insulin-stimulated glucose utilisation, and marked activation of BAT thermogenesis. Insulin-dependent glucose uptake was significantly increased in white adipose tissue and BAT, whereas glycogen synthesis was increased in liver, fat and muscle. Despite marked weight loss in the mice, SR141716 treatment did not improve insulin-mediated suppression of hepatic glucose production nor increase skeletal muscle glucose uptake. Denervation of iBAT blunted the effect of SR141716 on iBAT differentiation and insulin-mediated glucose uptake. Conclusions/interpretation: Chronic CB1 antagonism markedly enhances insulin-mediated glucose utilisation in DIO mice, independent of its anorectic and weight-reducing effects. The potent effect on insulin-stimulated BAT glucose uptake reveals a novel role for CB1 receptors as regulators of glucose metabolism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3121-3131
Number of pages11
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements This work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (DK078283), The American Diabetes Association (research grant 707RA11677), the Cincinnati Mouse Metabolic Phenotyping Center (MMPC DK59630) and Ethicon Endosurgery. Special thanks to S. Lipp and M. Fitzgerald for their outstanding technical assistance.


  • Brown adipose tissue
  • CB1 receptors
  • Diet-induced obesity
  • Euglycaemic-hyperinsulinaemic clamp
  • Glucose utilisation
  • Obesity
  • Rimonabant
  • SNS denervation
  • SR141716


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