Looking on the “brite” side exercise-induced browning of white adipose tissue

  • Logan K. Townsend
  • David C. Wright
Invited Review


The need for effective and convenient ways of combatting obesity has created great interest in brown adipose tissue (BAT). However, because adult humans have relatively little amounts of BAT, the possibility of browning white adipose tissue (WAT), i.e., switching the metabolism of WAT from an energy storing to energy burning organ, has gained considerable attention. Exercise has countless health benefits, and has consistently been shown to cause browning in rodent white adipose tissue. The purpose of this review is to provide an overview of recent studies examining the effects of exercise and other interventions on the browning of white adipose tissue. The role of various endocrine factors, including catecholamines, interleukin-6, irisin, and meteorin-like in addition to local re-esterification-mediated mechanisms in inducing the browning of WAT will be discussed. The physiological importance of browning will be discussed, as will discrepancies in the literature between human and rodent studies.


Adipose tissue Exercise Browning Brown adipose tissue 



DCW is funded by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Discovery grant and is a Tier II Canada Research Chair in Lipids, Metabolism, and Health. LKT is supported by an Ontario Graduate Scholarship, Dairy Farmers of Ontario Doctoral Research Scholarship, and NSERC Post-Graduate Scholarship.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Human Health and Nutritional ScienceUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada

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