Neuregulin 4: A “Hotline” Between Brown Fat and Liver
The discovery that functional brown adipose tissue (BAT) in adult humans is inversely related to body fat mass and may reflect metabolic health has stimulated adipose tissue research to explore activation of BAT as a potential target for antiobesity treatments. In addition to the capacity of BAT to increase energy expenditure and glucose and lipid uptake, BAT secretes factors that may contribute to the regulation of whole‐body metabolism. Among signals released from BAT, neuregulin 4 (NRG4) has been recently identified as an endocrine factor that may link the activation of BAT to protection against diet‐induced obesity, insulin resistance, and hepatic steatosis. NRG4 was shown to directly reduce lipogenesis in hepatocytes, and it could indirectly activate BAT via sympathetic neurons or via inducing brown adipocyte–like signatures in white adipocytes in a paracrine manner. However, the potential relevance of NRG4 as a diagnostic tool or target for the treatment of obesity‐related diseases remains to be explored.