Jens Mittag, Head of the Institute of Endocrinology and Diabetes at the University of Lübeck (left) with Dr. Rebecca Ölkrug, Junior Group Leader "Thyroid & BAT Programming" and first author of the study.

We congratulate LOCOTACT PI Jens Mittag for his recent publication in Nature Communications!
He and his team found that thyroid hormones in the mother during pregnancy had an influence on the subsequent activity of brown adipose tissue in the offspring. 

"It is well established that maternal thyroid hormones play an important role for the developing fetus; however, the consequences of maternal hyperthyroidism for the offspring remain poorly understood. Here we show in mice that maternal 3,3’,5-triiodothyronine (T3) treatment during pregnancy leads to improved glucose tolerance in the adult male offspring and hyperactivity of brown adipose tissue (BAT) thermogenesis in both sexes starting early after birth. The activated BAT provides advantages upon cold exposure, reducing the strain on other thermogenic organs like muscle. This maternal BAT programming requires intact maternal thyroid hormone receptor β (TRβ) signaling, as offspring of mothers lacking this receptor display the opposite phenotype. On the molecular level, we identify distinct T3 induced alterations in maternal serum metabolites, including choline, a key metabolite for healthy pregnancy. Taken together, our results connect maternal TRβ activation to the fetal programming of a thermoregulatory phenotype in the offspring"

Original publication:
Oelkrug, R., Harder, L., Pedaran, M. et al. Maternal thyroid hormone receptor β activation in mice sparks brown fat thermogenesis in the offspring. Nat Commun 14, 6742 (2023).