Obesity is increasing in an alarming rate worldwide, which causes higher risks of some diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. Current therapeutic approaches, either pancreatic lipase inhibitors or appetite suppressors, are generally of limited effectiveness. Brown adipose tissue (BAT) and beige cells dissipate fatty acids as heat to maintain body temperature, termed non-shivering thermogenesis; the activity and mass of BAT and beige cells are negatively correlated with overweight and obesity. The existence of BAT and beige cells in human adults provides an effective weight reduction therapy, a process likely to be amenable to pharmacological intervention. Herein, we combed through the physiology of thermogenesis and the role of BAT and beige cells in combating with obesity. We summarized the thermogenic regulators identified in the past decades, targeting G protein-coupled receptors, transient receptor potential channels, nuclear receptors and miscellaneous pathways. Advances in clinical trials were also presented. The main purpose of this review is to provide a comprehensive and up-to-date knowledge from the biological importance of thermogenesis in energy homeostasis to the representative thermogenic regulators for treating obesity. Thermogenic regulators might have a large potential for further investigations to be developed as lead compounds in fighting obesity.
The human body is now viewed as a complex ecosystem that on a cellular and gene level is mainly prokaryotic. The mammalian liver synthesizes and secretes hydrophilic primary bile acids, some of which enter the colon during the enterohepatic circulation, and are converted into numerous hydrophobic metabolites which are capable of entering the portal circulation, returned to the liver, and in humans, accumulating in the biliary pool. Bile acids are hormones that regulate their own synthesis, transport, in addition to glucose and lipid homeostasis, and energy balance. The gut microbial community through their capacity to produce bile acid metabolites distinct from the liver can be thought of as an "endocrine organ" with potential to alter host physiology, perhaps to their own favor. We propose the term "sterolbiome" to describe the genetic potential of the gut microbiome to produce endocrine molecules from endogenous and exogenous steroids in the mammalian gut. The affinity of secondary bile acid metabolites to host nuclear receptors is described, the potential of secondary bile acids to promote tumors, and the potential of bile acids to serve as therapeutic agents are discussed.