Role of Liver CD38 in the Regulation of Metabolic Pathways during Cold-Induced Thermogenesis in Mice


Boosting NAD+ levels are considered a promising means to promote healthy aging and ameliorate dysfunctional metabolism. The expression of CD38, the major NAD+-consuming enzyme, is downregulated during thermogenesis in both brown and white adipose tissues (BAT and WAT). Moreover, BAT activation and WAT "browning" were enhanced in Cd38-/- mice. In this study, the role of CD38 in the liver during thermogenesis was investigated, with the liver being the central organ controlling systemic energy metabolism. Wild-type mice and Cd38-/- mice were exposed to cold temperatures, and levels of metabolites and enzymes were measured in the livers and plasma. During cold exposure, CD38 expression was downregulated in the liver, as in BAT and WAT, with a concomitant increase in NAD(H) and a marked decrease in NADPH levels. Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase and the malic enzyme, along with enzymes in the glycolytic pathway, were downregulated, which is in line with glucose-6-P being re-directed towards glucose release. In Cd38-/- mice, the cross-regulation between glycolysis and glucose release was lost, although this did not impair the glucose release from glycogen. Glycerol levels were decreased in the liver from Cd38-/- animals upon cold exposure, suggesting that glyceroneogenesis, as gluconeogenesis, was not properly activated in the absence of CD38. SIRT3 activity, regulating mitochondrial metabolism, was enhanced by cold exposure, whereas its activity was already high at a warm temperature in Cd38-/- mice and was not further increased by the cold. Notably, FGF21 and bile acid release was enhanced in the liver of Cd38-/- mice, which might contribute to enhanced BAT activation in Cd38-/- mice. These results demonstrate that CD38 inhibition can be suggested as a strategy to boost NAD+ and would not negatively affect hepatic functions during thermogenesis.

Bibliographical data

Original languageEnglish
Article number3812
Publication statusPublished - 28.11.2022
PubMed 36497069