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Background: Uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) is a mitochondral protein transporter that uncouples electron transport from ATP production. UCP1 is highly expressed in brown adipose tissue (BAT), including hibernomas, but its expression in other adipose tumours is uncertain. UCP1 has also been found in other tissues (e.g. smooth muscle) but whether it is expressed in non-adipose benign and malignant soft tissue tumours is unknown. Methods: Immunohistochemical staining of normal (axillary) BAT and subcutaneous/abdominal white adipose tissue (WAT) as well as a wide range of benign and malignant primary soft tissue tumours (n = 171) was performed using a rabbit polyclonal antibody to UCP1. BAT and hibernomas were also stained by immunohistochemistry with monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies to adipose/non-adipose tumour markers in order to characterise the immunophenotype of BAT cells. Results: UCP1 was strongly expressed in the cytoplasm of brown fat cells in BAT and hibernomas, both of which also expressed aP2, S100, CD31, vimentin and calponin. UCP1 was not expressed in WAT or other adipose tumours with the exception a few tumour cells in pleomorphic liposarcoma. UCP1 was variably expressed by tumour cells in a few non-adipose sarcomas including leiomyosarcoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, alveolar soft part sarcoma, synovial sarcoma and clear cell sarcoma. Conclusions: UCP1 is strongly expressed in BAT but not WAT and is found in all hibernomas and a few pleomorphic liposarcomas but not in other adipose tumours. UCP1 expression in a few non-adipose soft tissue sarcomas may possibly reflect origin of tumour cells from a common mesenchymal stem cell precursor and/or developmental pathway.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Sarcoma Res

Publication Date





Brown fat, Hibernoma, Liposarcoma, UCP1