Brown Adipose Tissue: A Seasonal Tissue in Mammals, Including Humans?

  • Jan Nedergaard
  • Barbara Cannon


Brown adipose tissue is no longer considered merely as another kind of adipose tissue. Rather, deriving as it does from precursors that may also develop into muscle cells, it is an organ in its own right. It produces heat due to the action of the—only—thermogenic uncoupling protein, uncoupling protein-1 (UCP1), and this heat is the sole basis for both thermoregulatory nonshivering thermogenesis and metaboloregulatory thermogenesis (diet-induced thermogenesis), i.e., all adaptive thermogenesis; its function is probably also mandatory for the thermogenesis needed for arousal from hibernation. The increase in brown-fat capacity associated with (seasonal) adaptation (“recruitment”) occurs through two processes: one resulting from chronic sympathetic nervous stimulation, obligatorily coupled to heat production, and another, principally unknown, non-thermogenic process, probably experimentally mimicked by thiazolidinediones. This latter process is probably responsible for recruitment in hibernators, for recruitment induced by short-day, and for precocial prenatal recruitment. Brown adipose tissue is active in a large fraction of adult humans, and, also in humans, it may be seasonally regulated.


Brown Adipose Tissue White Adipose Tissue Basal Metabolic Rate Sympathetic Stimulation Brown Adipocyte 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Wenner-Gren InstituteStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden

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