Adipose Tissue and FoxO1: Bridging Physiology and Mechanisms

Laura Ioannilli, Fabio Ciccarone, Maria Rosa Ciriolo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Forkhead box O class proteins (FoxOs) are expressed nearly in all tissues and are involved in different functions such as energy metabolism, redox homeostasis, differentiation, and cell cycle arrest. The plasticity of FoxOs is demonstrated by post-translational modifications that determine diverse levels of transcriptional regulations also controlled by their subcellular localization. Among the different members of the FoxO family, we will focus on FoxO1 in adipose tissue, where it is abundantly expressed and is involved in differentiation and transdifferentiation processes. The capability of FoxO1 to respond differently in dependence of adipose tissue subtype underlines the specific involvement of the transcription factor in energy metabolism and the "browning" process of adipocytes. FoxO1 can localize to nuclear, cytoplasm, and mitochondrial compartments of adipocytes responding to different availability of nutrients and source of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Specifically, fasted state produced-ROS enhance the nuclear activity of FoxO1, triggering the transcription of lipid catabolism and antioxidant response genes. The enhancement of lipid catabolism, in combination with ROS buffering, allows systemic energetic homeostasis and metabolic adaptation of white/beige adipocytes. On the contrary, a fed state induces FoxO1 to accumulate in the cytoplasm, but also in the mitochondria where it affects mitochondrial DNA gene expression. The importance of ROS-mediated signaling in FoxO1 subcellular localization and retrograde communication will be discussed, highlighting key aspects of FoxO1 multifaceted regulation in adipocytes.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Mar 31 2020


  • Adipocytes/metabolism
  • Adipose Tissue/physiology
  • Adipose Tissue, Brown/metabolism
  • Animals
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors/genetics
  • Humans
  • Reactive Oxygen Species/metabolism
  • Signal Transduction


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