Breaking: Melanopsin Discovered in Human Adipose Tissue


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“It is clear that centrally mediated circadian rhythms play an important role in human health and our results provide initial information about how appropriate sunlight exposure to subcutaneous white adipose tissue (scWAT) might act as a peripheral circadian sensor that contributes to metabolic health. In contrast, a lack of sufficient bodily exposure to sunlight may contribute to long-term scWAT dysfunction and the current epidemics of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”


Melanopsin is the blue light photon receptor in our eyes responsible for relaying sunlight to the SCN to entrain the central pacemaker. Well, a group of scientists accidentally discovered it fat cells:

Subcutaneous white adipose tissue express a light sensitive signaling pathway mediated via a melanopsin/TRPC channel axis (Ondrusova et al., 2017)

Figure “C” takes the cake. Electrophysiology studies show this receptor is highly sensitive to 465 nm blue/green, meaning it’s probably definitely melanopsin.

and guess what it does?

LIPOLYSIS — see Figure “E” above. Activation of melanopsin reduces the size of lipid droplets and lowers leptin. Interestingly, it also reduces adiponectin.



They also discovered this in mice, who are covered with fur and most of their melanopsin-containing scWAT is on their bellies which would never be exposed to the sun anyway. So….

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