The role of active brown adipose tissue in human metabolism

Abstract

Purpose

The presence of activated brown adipose tissue (ABAT) has been associated with a reduced risk of obesity in adults. We aimed to investigate whether the presence of ABAT in patients undergoing 18F-FDG PET/CT examinations was related to blood lipid profiles, liver function, and the prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Methods

We retrospectively and prospectively analysed the 18F-FDG PET/CT scans from 5,907 consecutive patients who were referred to the Nuclear Medicine Department of the Marmara University School of Medicine from outpatient oncology clinics between July 2008 and June 2014 for a variety of diagnostic reasons. Attenuation coefficients for the liver and spleen were determined for at least five different areas. Blood samples were obtained before PET/CT to assess the blood lipid profiles and liver function.

Results

A total of 25 of the 5,907 screened individuals fulfilling the inclusion criteria for the study demonstrated brown fat tissue uptake [ABAT(+) subjects]. After adjustment for potential confounders, 75 individuals without evidence of ABAT on PET [ABAT(−) subjects] were enrolled for comparison purposes. The ABAT(+) group had lower total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, alanine aminotransferase, and aspartate transaminase levels (p < 0.01), whereas we found no significant differences in the serum triglyceride and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels between the two groups. The prevalence of NAFLD was significantly lower in ABAT(+) than in ABAT(−) subjects (p < 0.01).

Conclusion

Our study showed that the presence of ABAT in adults had a positive effect on their blood lipid profiles and liver function and was associated with reduced prevalence of NAFLD. Thus, our data suggest that activating brown adipose tissue may be a potential target for preventing and treating dyslipidaemia and NAFLD.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Editage (www.editage.com) for English language editing.

Compliance with ethical standards

Financial support

The authors received no financial support for the research or authorship of this article.

Conflicts of interest

None.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the principles of the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The study was approved by the institutional ethics committee.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Correspondence to Tunc Ones.

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Ozguven, S., Ones, T., Yilmaz, Y. et al. The role of active brown adipose tissue in human metabolism. Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging 43, 355–361 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00259-015-3166-7

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Keywords

  • Adipose tissue, brown
  • Dyslipidaemias
  • 18F-Fluorodeoxyglucose
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Positron emission tomography