The development of cardiometabolic complications during obesity is strongly associated with chronic latent inflammation in hypertrophied adipose tissue (AT). IL-4 is an anti-inflammatory cytokine, playing a protective role against insulin resistance, glucose intolerance and weight gain. The positive effects of IL-4 are associated not only with the activation of anti-inflammatory immune cells in AT, but also with the modulation of adipocyte metabolism. IL-4 is known to activate lipolysis and glucose uptake in adipocytes, but the precise regulatory mechanisms and physiological significance of these processes remain unclear. In this study, we detail IL-4 effects on glucose and triacylglycerides (TAGs) metabolism and propose mechanisms of IL-4 metabolic action in adipocytes. We have shown that IL-4 activates glucose oxidation, lipid droplet (LD) fragmentation, lipolysis and thermogenesis in mature 3T3-L1 adipocytes. We found that lipolysis was not accompanied by fatty acids (FAs) release from adipocytes, suggesting FA re-esterification. Moreover, glucose oxidation and thermogenesis stimulation depended on adipocyte triglyceride lipase (ATGL) activity, but not the uncoupling protein (UCP1) expression. Based on these data, IL-4 may activate the futile TAG–FA cycle in adipocytes, which enhances the oxidative activity of cells and heat production. Thus, the positive effect of IL-4 on systemic metabolism can be the result of the activation of non-canonical thermogenic mechanism in AT, increasing TAG turnover and utilization of excessive glucose.

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