Brown Adipose Tissue

  • Martin KlingensporEmail author
  • Tobias Fromme


A constant body temperature can only be maintained when the rate of heat dissipation equals the rate of heat loss. Thermoregulatory heat production mechanisms compensating heat loss are classically categorized as shivering and non-shivering thermogenesis. Non-shivering thermogenesis occurs in brown adipose tissue, a unique heater organ only found in mammals. In brown adipose tissue mitochondria, the proton motive force across the inner membrane is dissipated as heat rather than converted to ATP. This tightly regulated process is catalyzed by the uncoupling protein 1. Non-shivering thermogenesis is elicited by the sympathetic innervation from hypothalamic and brain stem control regions which are activated by cold sensation. In a cold environment, up to half of the metabolic rate of rodents can be attributed to non-shivering thermogenesis in brown adipose tissue. The high thermogenic capacity of brown adipose tissue recruited in the defense of normothermia may also play a role in the regulation of energy balance in the face of hypercaloric nutrition. In this light, the recent discovery of significant amounts of metabolically active brown adipose tissue in healthy adult humans reintroduces an old player in human energy balance research and may enable new strategies to prevent excess body fat accumulation in man.


Uncoupling protein 1 Brown adipose tissue White adipose tissue Adipocyte Progenitor Mitochondria ATP synthesis Non-shivering thermogenesis Progenitor Proliferation Differentiation 



The authors receive financial support from the Else Kröner-Fresenius Stiftung, the German Research Community (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) and the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Molecular Nutritional MedicineTechnische Universität München, Else Kröner-Fresenius Center for Nutritional MedicineFreising-WeihenstephanGermany

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