, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 53-58

Hypothalamic inflammation and thermogenesis: the brown adipose tissue connection

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Abstract

Hypothalamic inflammation and dysfunction are common features of experimental obesity. An imbalance between caloric intake and energy expenditure is generated as a consequence of this inflammation, leading to the progressive increase of body adiposity. Thermogenesis, is one of the main functions affected by obesity-linked hypothalamic dysfunction and the complete characterization of the mechanisms involved in this process may offer new therapeutic perspectives for obesity. The brown adipose tissue is an important target for hypothalamic action in thermogenesis. This tissue has been thoroughly studied in rodents and hibernating mammals; however, until recently, its advocated role in human thermogenesis was neglected due to the lack of substantial evidence of its presence in adult humans. The recent demonstration of the presence of functional brown adipose tissue in adult humans has renovated the interest in this tissue. Here, we review some of the work that shows how inflammation and dysfunction of the hypothalamus can control brown adipose tissue activity and how this can impact on whole body thermogenesis and energy expenditure.