Sleep and Breathing

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 541–548 | Cite as

Downregulation of uncoupling protein-1 mRNA expression and hypoadiponectinemia in a mouse model of sleep apnea

  • Cintia Zappe FioriEmail author
  • Denis Martinez
  • Diego Baronio
  • Darlan Pase da Rosa
  • Nelson Alexandre Kretzmann
  • Luiz Felipe Forgiarini
  • Carolina Caruccio Montanari
  • Norma Possa Marroni
  • Alicia Carissimi
Original Article



The knowledge on the effect of intermittent hypoxia on adipose tissue-mediated processes is incipient. The aim of the present study was to assess the effect of a sleep apnea model on a limited set of specific molecular, biochemical, histological, and behavioral parameters of adipose tissue function.


Mice were exposed to either intermittent hypoxia or sham hypoxia during 8 h a day for 37 days. Uncoupling protein-1 expression in brown adipose tissue was measured by real-time PCR and immunohistochemistry. Digital quantification of adipose cells and immunohistochemistry of uncoupling protein-1 were performed to determine cell dimensions, positive area, and staining intensity. Serum levels of leptin, adiponectin, and cortisol were measured by ELISA.


In comparison with the control group, animals in the hypoxia group had significantly lower chow ingestion, weight gain, and smaller white and brown adipocytes on histological examination. Adiponectin levels were also lower in the hypoxia group. Uncoupling protein-1 mRNA was abolished in the mice exposed to hypoxia; accordingly, fewer cells positive for uncoupling protein-1 and lighter staining intensity were observed in brown adipocytes.


An experimental model of sleep apnea produced changes in uncoupling protein-1 expression and adiponectin levels. These results confirm previous findings on the response of brown adipose tissue to intermittent hypoxia and indicate a yet-unknown interference of intermittent hypoxia on energy control, which may participate in the propensity to weight gain observed in patients with sleep apnea. Brown adipose tissue activity in this patient population needs to be further investigated.


Brown adipose tissue Thermogenin Intermittent hypoxia Sleep disordered breathing Adiponectin 



Obstructive sleep apnea


Brown adipose tissue


Uncoupling protein-1



This work was supported by the Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre Research Incentive Fund (FIPE/HCPA), CNPq, and CAPES.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cintia Zappe Fiori
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Denis Martinez
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Diego Baronio
    • 3
  • Darlan Pase da Rosa
    • 3
    • 4
  • Nelson Alexandre Kretzmann
    • 5
    • 6
  • Luiz Felipe Forgiarini
    • 7
  • Carolina Caruccio Montanari
    • 8
  • Norma Possa Marroni
    • 9
  • Alicia Carissimi
    • 3
  1. 1.Postgraduate Program in CardiologyUniversidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS)Porto AlegreBrazil
  2. 2.Cardiology Unit, Hospital de Clinicas de Porto Alegre (HCPA)UFRGSPorto AlegreBrazil
  3. 3.Postgraduate Program in Medical SciencesUFRGSPorto AlegreBrazil
  4. 4.Faculdade Cenecista de Bento GonçalvesBento GonçalvesBrazil
  5. 5.Graduate Program in PathologyUniversidade Federal de Ciências da Saúde de Porto Alegre (UFCSPA)Porto AlegreBrazil
  6. 6.Gene Therapy Centre, Experimental Research CentreHCPAPorto AlegreBrazil
  7. 7.Postgraduate Program in Pulmonary MedicineUFRGSPorto AlegreBrazil
  8. 8.Undergraduate Program in NursingUFCSPAPorto AlegreBrazil
  9. 9.Universidade Luterana do BrasilCanoasBrazil

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