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1.  Assessment of Oxidative Metabolism in Brown Fat Using PET Imaging 
Objective: Although it has been believed that brown adipose tissue (BAT) depots disappear shortly after the perinatal period in humans, positron emission tomography (PET) imaging using the glucose analog 18F-deoxy-d-glucose (FDG) has shown unequivocally the existence of functional BAT in humans, suggesting that most humans have some functional BAT. The objective of this study was to determine, using dynamic oxygen-15 (15O) PET imaging, to what extent BAT thermogenesis is activated in adults during cold stress and to establish the relationship between BAT oxidative metabolism and FDG tracer uptake. Methods: Fourteen adult normal subjects (9F/5M, 30 ± 7 years) underwent triple oxygen scans (H215O, C15O, 15O2) as well as indirect calorimetric measurements at both rest and following exposure to mild cold (16°C). Subjects were divided into two groups (BAT+ and BAT−) based on the presence or absence of FDG tracer uptake (SUV > 2) in cervical–supraclavicular BAT. Blood flow and oxygen extraction fraction (OEF) was calculated from dynamic PET scans at the location of BAT, muscle, and white adipose tissue (WAT). The metabolic rate of oxygen (MRO2) in BAT was determined and used to calculate the contribution of activated BAT to daily energy expenditure (DEE). Results: The median mass of activated BAT in the BAT+ group (5F, age 31 ± 8) was 52.4 g (range 14–68 g) and was 1.7 g (range 0–6.3 g) in the BAT − group (5M/4F, age 29 ± 6). Corresponding SUV values were significantly higher in the BAT+ as compared to the BAT− group (7.4 ± 3.7 vs. 1.9 ± 0.9; p = 0.03). Blood flow values in BAT were significantly higher in the BAT+ group as compared to the BAT− group (13.1 ± 4.4 vs. 5.7 ± 1.1 ml/100 g/min, p = 0.03), but were similar in WAT (4.1 ± 1.6 vs. 4.2 ± 1.8 ml/100 g/min) and muscle (3.7 ± 0.8 vs. 3.3 ± 1.2 ml/100 g/min). Moreover, OEF in BAT was similar in the two groups (0.56 ± 0.18 in BAT+ vs. 0.46 ± 0.19 in BAT−, p = 0.39). Calculated MRO2 values in BAT increased from 0.95 ± 0.74 to 1.62 ± 0.82 ml/100 g/min in the BAT+ group and were significantly higher than those determined in the BAT− group (0.43 ± 0.27 vs. 0.56 ± 0.24, p = 0.67). The DEE associated with BAT oxidative metabolism was highly variable in the BAT+ group, with an average of 5.5 ± 6.4 kcal/day (range 0.57–15.3 kcal/day). Conclusion: BAT thermogenesis in humans accounts for less than 20 kcal/day during moderate cold stress, even in subjects with relatively large BAT depots. Furthermore, due to the large differences in blood flow and glucose metabolic rates in BAT between humans and rodents, the application of rodent data to humans is problematic and needs careful evaluation.
PMCID: PMC3355936  PMID: 22649408
brown fat thermogenesis; oxidative metabolism; 15O PET imaging
2.  Prevalence, Mass, and Glucose-Uptake Activity of 18F-FDG-Detected Brown Adipose Tissue in Humans Living in a Temperate Zone of Italy 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e63391.
The 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (18F-FDG)-detected brown adipose tissue (BAT), is enhanced by cold stimulus and modulated by other factors that still have to be disentangled. We investigated the prevalence, mass, and glucose-uptake activity of 18F-FDG-detected BAT in a population of adults living in the temperate climatic zone of the Rome area.
Methods and Findings
We retrospectively analyzed 6454 patients who underwent 18F-FDG positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) examinations. We found 18F-FDG BAT in 217 of the 6454 patients (3.36%). Some of them underwent more than one scan and the positive scans were 278 among 8004 (3.47%). The prevalence of patients with at least one positive scan was lower in men (1.77%; 56 of 3161) compared with women (4.88%; 161 of 3293). The BAT positive patients were most frequently younger, thinner and with lower plasma glucose levels compared with BAT negative patients. The amount of BAT in the defined region of interest, the activity of BAT and the number of positive sites of active BAT were similar in both sexes. The prevalence of patients with 18F-FDG positive PET/CT was highest in December-February, lower in March-May and September-November, and lowest in June-August and was positively correlated with night length and negatively correlated with ambient temperature. Changes in day length and variations of temperature, associated with the prevalence of positive BAT patients. Among the patients who had multiple scans, outdoor temperature was significantly lower and day length was shorter on the occasion when BAT was detected.
This study identifies day length, outdoor temperature, age, sex, BMI, and plasma glucose levels as major determinants of the prevalence, mass, and activity of 18F-FDG-detected BAT.
PMCID: PMC3648481  PMID: 23667608
3.  15O PET Measurement of Blood Flow and Oxygen Consumption in Cold-Activated Human Brown Fat 
Although it has been believed that brown adipose tissue (BAT) depots disappear shortly after the perinatal period in humans, PET imaging using the glucose analog 18F-FDG has shown unequivocally the existence of functional BAT in adult humans, suggesting that many humans retain some functional BAT past infancy. The objective of this study was to determine to what extent BAT thermogenesis is activated in adults during cold stress and to establish the relationship between BAT oxidative metabolism and 18F-FDG tracer uptake.
Twenty-five healthy adults (15 women and 10 men; mean age ± SD, 30 ± 7 y) underwent triple-oxygen scans (H215O, C15O, and 15O2) as well as measurements of daily energy expenditure (DEE; kcal/d) both at rest and after exposure to mild cold (15.5°C [60°F]) using indirect calorimetry. The subjects were divided into 2 groups (high BAT and low BAT) based on the presence or absence of 18F-FDG tracer uptake (standardized uptake value [SUV] > 2) in cervical–supraclavicular BAT. Blood flow and oxygen extraction fraction (OEF) were calculated from dynamic PET scans at the location of BAT, muscle, and white adipose tissue. Regional blood oxygen saturation was determined by near-infrared spectroscopy. The total energy expenditure during rest and mild cold stress was measured by indirect calorimetry. Tissue-level metabolic rate of oxygen (MRO2) in BAT was determined and used to calculate the contribution of activated BAT to DEE.
The mass of activated BAT was 59.1 ± 17.5 g (range, 32–85 g) in the high-BAT group (8 women and 1 man; mean age, 29.6 ± 5.5 y) and 2.2 ± 3.6 g (range, 0–9.3 g) in the low-BAT group (9 men and 7 women; mean age, 31.4 ± 10 y). Corresponding maximal SUVs were significantly higher in the high-BAT group than in the low-BAT group (10.7 ± 3.9 vs. 2.1 ± 0.7, P = 0.01). Blood flow values were significantly higher in the high-BAT group than in the low-BAT group for BAT (12.9 ± 4.1 vs. 5.9 ± 2.2 mL/100 g/min, P = 0.03) and white adipose tissue (7.2 ± 3.4 vs. 5.7 ± 2.3 mL/100 g/min, P = 0.03) but were similar for muscle (4.4 ± 1.9 vs. 3.9 ± 1.7 mL/100 g/min). Moreover, OEF in BAT was similar in the 2 groups (0.51 ± 0.17 in high-BAT group vs. 0.47 ± 0.18 in low-BAT group, P = 0.39). During mild cold stress, calculated MRO2 values in BAT increased from 0.97 ± 0.53 to 1.42 ± 0.68 mL/100 g/min (P = 0.04) in the high-BAT group and were significantly higher than those determined in the low-BAT group (0.40 ± 0.28 vs. 0.51 ± 0.23, P = 0.67). The increase in DEE associated with BAT oxidative metabolism was highly variable in the high-BAT group, with an average of 3.2 ± 2.4 kcal/d (range, 1.9–4.6 kcal/d) at rest, and increased to 6.3 ± 3.5 kcal/d (range, 4.0–9.9 kcal/d) during exposure to mild cold. Although BAT accounted for only a small fraction of the cold-induced increase in DEE, such increases were not observed in subjects lacking BAT.
Mild cold-induced thermogenesis in BAT accounts for 15–25 kcal/d in subjects with relatively large BAT depots. Thus, although the presence of active BAT is correlated with cold-induced energy expenditure, direct measurement of MRO2 indicates that BAT is a minor source of thermogenesis in humans.
PMCID: PMC3883579  PMID: 23362317
brown fat thermogenesis; BAT oxidative metabolism; 15O PET imaging
4.  Review Analysis of the Association between the Prevalence of Activated Brown Adipose Tissue and Outdoor Temperature 
The Scientific World Journal  2012;2012:793039.
Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is important for regulating body weight. Environmental temperature influences BAT activation. Activated BAT is identifiable using 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography/computed tomography (18F-FDG PET/CT). 18F-FDG PET/CT scans done between June 2005 and May 2009 in our institution in tropical southern Taiwan and BAT studies from PubMed (2002–2011) were reviewed, and the average outdoor temperatures during the study periods were obtained. A simple linear regression was used to analyze the association between the prevalence of activated BAT (P) and the average outdoor temperature (T). The review analysis for 9 BAT studies (n = 16, 765) showed a significant negative correlation (r = −0.741, P = 0.022) between the prevalence of activated BAT and the average outdoor temperature. The equation of the regression line is P(%) = 6.99 − 0.20 × T  (°C). The prevalence of activated BAT decreased by 1% for each 5°C increase in average outdoor temperature. In a neutral ambient temperature, the prevalence of activated BAT is low and especially rare in the tropics. There is a significant linear negative correlation between the prevalence of activated BAT and the average outdoor temperature.
PMCID: PMC3349155  PMID: 22593707
5.  Impact of Age on the Relationships of Brown Adipose Tissue With Sex and Adiposity in Humans 
Diabetes  2010;59(7):1789-1793.
Brown adipose tissue (BAT) regulates energy homeostasis and fat mass in mammals and newborns and, most likely, in adult humans. Because BAT activity and BAT mass decline with age in humans, the impact of BAT on adiposity may decrease with aging. In the present study we addressed this hypothesis and further investigated the effect of age on the sex differences in BAT activity and BAT mass.
Data from 260 subjects (98 with BAT and 162 study date–matched control subjects) who underwent 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography/computed tomography (18F-FDG PET/CT) under thermoneutral conditions were analyzed. BAT activity and BAT mass were determined in the upper body.
BAT activity and BAT mass were higher in female (1.59 ± 0.10 and 32 ± 5 g vs. 1.02 ± 0.10 and 18 ± 4 g, both P ≤ 0.0006) than in male subjects. In multivariate analyses, sex (P < 0.0001), age (P < 0.0001), and BMI (P = 0.0018) were associated independently with BAT activity. Interestingly, only in male subjects was there an interaction between BMI and age in determining BAT activity (P = 0.008) and BAT mass (P = 0.0002); BMI decreased with increasing BAT activity and BAT mass in the lowest age tertile (Spearman rank correlation coefficient rs = −0.38, P = 0.015 and rs = −0.37, P = 0.017, respectively), not in the higher age tertiles. Furthermore, BAT activity and mass differed between female and male subjects only in the upper two age tertiles (all P ≤ 0.09).
Our data corroborate that, in general, BAT activity and BAT mass are elevated in female subjects and in younger people. Importantly, we provide novel evidence that the impact of BAT activity and BAT mass on adiposity appears to decline with aging only in male subjects. Furthermore, while BAT activity and BAT mass only moderately decline with increasing age in female subjects, a much stronger effect is found in male subjects.
PMCID: PMC2889780  PMID: 20357363
6.  The Prevalence and Characteristics of Brown Adipose Tissue in an 18F-FDG PET Study of Koreans 
The object of this study was to evaluate the prevalence and characteristics of brown adipose tissue (BAT) in Korean subjects using 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (18F-FDG PET).
Six thousand and five consecutive 18F-FDG PET/CT scans of 5,115 patients (3,007 females and 2,108 males, mean age 53.5 years) were retrospectively reviewed. We characterized the nature of BAT, such as its location, and we assessed the influence of sex, age, body mass index (BMI), and temperature on BAT.
The prevalence of BAT in Koreans in a single 18F-FDG PET/CT scan in average conditions was 1.07%. The BAT detection rate was higher in females than males (1.32% vs 0.73%), and also with younger age (7.94% vs 0.73%), lower BMI (BMI with BAT, 21.1 vs BMI without BAT, 23.15) and cold outdoor temperature (1.65% vs 0.49%). The most frequent location of BAT was the supraclavicular area (left, 0.91%; right, 0.88%) and ventral neck area (left, 0.62%; right, 0.63%).
The characteristics of BAT in Koreans are not different from those described for Caucasians. However, the low prevalence of BAT in our study might be related to some scan condition like ambient temperature, but further study is needed.
PMCID: PMC4042938  PMID: 24899951
Brown adipose tissue; FDG; PET; Korean
7.  A pilot study of FDG PET/CT detects a link between brown adipose tissue and breast cancer 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:126.
Breast cancer is the second most lethal cancer in women. Understanding biological mechanisms that cause progression of this disease could yield new targets for prevention and treatment. Recent experimental studies suggest that brown adipose tissue (BAT) may play a key role in breast cancer progression. The primary objective for this pilot study was to determine if the prevalence of active BAT in patients with breast cancer is increased compared to cancer patients with other malignancies.
We retrospectively analyzed data from 96 breast cancer patients who had FDG PET/CT scan for routine staging at the University of Maryland and 96 age- and weight-matched control female patients with other malignancies (predominantly colon cancer) who had undergone FDG PET/CT imaging on the same day. Data on the distribution (bilateral upper neck, supraclavicular and paraspinal regions) and intensity (SUVmax) of active BAT were evaluated by 2 Nuclear Medicine physicians, blinded to the clinical history.
We found sufficient evidence to conclude that based on our sample data the prevalence of active BAT in breast cancer patients’ group is significantly different from that in the control group. The estimated frequency of BAT activity was 3 fold higher in breast cancer patients as compared to controls with other cancers, (16.7% vs. 5.2%, respectively, p = 0.019). When patients were stratified by age in order to determine the possible impact of age related hormonal changes on active BAT among the younger women (≤ 55 years of age), 25.6% breast cancer patients exhibited BAT activity compared to only 2.8% in control women (p = 0.007). In contrast, among the older women (> 55 years of age), the prevalence of active BAT was similar among breast cancer and control women (10.7% vs 6.7%).
In breast cancer patients prevalence of BAT activity on FDGPET/CT is 3-fold greater than in age- and body weight-matched patients with other solid tumor malignancies; this difference is particularly striking among younger women aged < =55. In summary, our retrospective clinical data provide support to pursue prospective clinical and translational studies to further define the role of BAT in breast cancer development and progression.
PMCID: PMC3937456  PMID: 24564204
Breast cancer; Brown adipose tissue; FDG PET/CT
8.  The Relationship between Patients’ Serum Glucose Levels and Metabolically Active Brown Adipose Tissue Detected by PET/CT 
To compare blood glucose levels in patients with or without “detectable” brown adipose tissue (BAT) using 2-deoxy-2-[18F]fluoro-D-glucose positron emission tomography/ computed tomography (FDG PET/CT).
Nine hundred eight patients had PET/CT scans and were previously identified as having, or not having, FDG uptake in BAT. The original database was retrospectively reviewed for blood glucose level and body mass index (BMI) at the time of imaging. Blood glucose levels were compared between patients with or without FDG uptake in BAT, adjusting for age, sex, and BMI.
Fifty-six patients (6.2%) had FDG uptake in BAT. In the univariate analysis, patients without FDG uptake in BAT had a higher risk of glucose ≥100 mg/dL (odds ratio 3.4, 95% CI= 1.6–7.3; P=0.0007). After adjustment for age, sex, BMI, and significant interaction of sex and BMI, patients without BAT tended to have a higher risk of glucose ≥100 mg/dL, although not statistically significant (odds ratio=1.6, 95% CI=0.7–3.6; P=0.268).
Although causal relationships are not specified, the data suggest that BAT uptake, glucose levels, BMI, sex, and age are inter-related and the possibility that presence of “detectable” BAT is protective against diabetes and obesity. FDG PET/CT may be a vital tool for further investigations of diabetes and obesity.
PMCID: PMC4352310  PMID: 21140233
Brown fat; BAT; Glucose; FDG; “USA”-Fat; PET; Brown adipose tissue
9.  Evaluation of 18F-FDG Uptake Pattern in Brown Adipose Tissue Over Extended Time Period as Assessed by Multiple Time Point 18F-FDG-PET 
To study the 18F-FDG uptake pattern in brown adipose tissue (BAT) over an extended time period, by multiple-time-point fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) imaging. The primary objective for this kind of research was that it could form a basis and may have further implications for obesity research, metabolic diseases and for cachexia of both malignant and benign origin.
A total of 12 patients who had undergone routine FDG-PET for disease evaluation and had demonstrated prominent BAT uptake in their baseline scans were selected. The patients with the diagnosis of neuroendocrine tumors were excluded. Maximum standardized uptake values (SUVmax) were calculated in the BAT of the supraclavicular and paravertebral areas of either side, and were analyzed separately to examine their behavior individually. Time activity curves (TACs) were generated for [A] BAT SUVmax values and [B] SUVmax ratio of BAT/lung (B/L SUVmax ratio) at various time points.
Ten out of the 12 patients were imaged at four time points, and two patients were imaged for two time points. Amongst a total of n = 30 sites, 23 were imaged at four time points and seven were imaged at two time points. Seventeen out of 30 area sites (56.67 %) demonstrated a peak value at 60 min and a falling trend of SUVmax afterwards; the remaining showed a peak uptake value between 85 and 300 min after the first scan (i.e. 145–360 min after injection), and falling values thereafter. With regard to the B/L SUVmax ratio, ten out of 30 sites (33.33 %) demonstrated peak uptake at 60 min, and the remaining showed a rise, with peak uptake at times between 85 and 300 min after the first scan (i.e. 145–360 min after injection) and falling values thereafter. No additional area of BAT uptake was observed over the extended time period in this study.
Wide variability was observed in the BAT FDG uptake over an extended period of time. Nearly half of the sites demonstrated an increase in FDG uptake until 360 min (i.e. 6 h) after injection, while the remaining half showed peak uptake at 1 h and subsequent fall of uptake. In the future, it will be worthwhile to study whether there exists any difference in time course of FDG uptake in brown fat between patients with cancer and those scanned for benign etiologies, or between obese and non-obese individuals.
PMCID: PMC4041975  PMID: 24900088
FDG-PET; Brown adipose tissue; Multiple time point studies; Brown fat
10.  In Vivo Optical Imaging of Interscapular Brown Adipose Tissue with 18F-FDG via Cerenkov Luminescence Imaging 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e62007.
Brown adipose tissue (BAT), a specialized tissue for thermogenesis, plays important roles for metabolism and energy expenditure. Recent studies validated BAT’s presence in human adults, making it an important re-emerging target for various pathologies. During this validation, PET images with 18F-FDG showed significant uptake of 18F-FDG by BAT under certain conditions. Here, we demonstrated that Cerenkov luminescence imaging (CLI) using 18F-FDG could be utilized for in vivo optical imaging of BAT in mice.
Mice were injected with 18F-FDG and imaged 60 minutes later with open filter and 2 minute acquisition. In vivo activation of BAT was performed by norepinephrine and cold treatment under isoflurane or ketamine anesthesia. Spectral unmixing and 3D imaging reconstruction were conducted with multiple-filter CLI images.
1) It was feasible to use CLI with 18F-FDG to image interscapular BAT in mice, with the majority of the signal (>85%) at the interscapular site originating from BAT; 2) The method was reliable because excellent correlations between in vivo CLI, ex vivo CLI, and ex vivo radioactivity were observed; 3) CLI could be used for monitoring BAT activation under different conditions; 4) CLI signals from the group under short-term isoflurane anesthesia were significantly higher than that from the group under long-term anesthesia; 5) The CLI spectrum of 18F-FDG with a peak at 640 nm in BAT after spectral unmixing reflected the actual context of BAT; 6) Finally 3D reconstruction images showed excellent correlation between the source of the light signal and the location and physical shape of BAT.
CLI with 18F-FDG is a feasible and reliable method for imaging BAT in mice. Compared to PET imaging, CLI is significantly cheaper, faster for 2D planar imaging and easier to use. We believe that this method could be used as an important tool for researchers investigating BAT.
PMCID: PMC3634850  PMID: 23637947
11.  The Prevalence and Predictors of Active Brown Adipose Tissue in Chinese Adults 
Previous studies have shown active brown adipose tissue (BAT) is present in adults and may play important roles in regulating energy homeostasis. However, nearly every study was done with patients undergoing scanning for cancer surveillance whose metabolism and BAT activity may not reflect that seen in healthy individuals. The objective of this study was to investigate the prevalence and predictors of active BAT in Chinese adults, particularly in healthy individuals.
In this study, a total of 31,088 consecutive subjects with age≥18 years old performed PET/CT scans in the site.
We measured BAT activity via 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography/computed tomography in these subjects who underwent scanning for either routine medical check-up (MC) or cancer surveillance (CS) in Shanghai. Then we investigated the predictors of active BAT, particularly in healthy individuals.
In both groups, the prevalence of BAT was higher in women than men. Using a multivariate logistic analysis, we found in the MC group, age, sex, BMI, and thyroid tissue metabolism were significant predictors of BAT activity. Similarly, in the CS group, age, sex, and BMI were significant predictors of BAT activity, but not thyroid metabolism.
In Chinese adults, BAT activity correlates inversely with BMI and thyroid metabolic activity, which reinforces the central role of brown fat in adult metabolism and a potential means for treating metabolic syndrome.
PMCID: PMC4127998  PMID: 24288355
Positron-emission Tomography and Computed Tomography (PET-CT); Brown Adipose Tissue (BAT); adults; predictor; activity
12.  Infrared thermography in the detection of brown adipose tissue in humans 
Physiological Reports  2014;2(11):e12167.
PET‐CT using 18F‐FDG is employed for detecting brown adipose tissue (BAT) in humans. Alternative methods are needed because of the radiation and cost of PET‐CT imaging. The aim was to evaluate the accuracy of infrared thermography (IRT) in detecting human BAT benchmarked to PET‐CT imaging. Seventeen individuals underwent a total of 29 PET‐CT scans, 12 of whom were studied twice, after 2 h of cold stimulation at 19°C, in parallel with measurement of skin temperatures overlying the supraclavicular (SCV) fossa and the lateral upper chest (control), before and after cold stimulation. Of the 29 scans, 20 were BAT positive after cold stimulation. The mean left SCV temperature tended to be higher in the BAT‐positive group before and during cooling. It was significantly higher (P =0.04) than the temperature of the control area, which fell significantly during cooling in the BAT‐positive (−1.2 ± 0.3°C, P =0.002) but not in the negative (−0.2 ± 0.4°C) group. The temperature difference (Δtemp) between left SCV and chest increased during cooling in the BAT‐positive (1.2 ± 0.2 to 2.0 ± 0.3°C, P <0.002) but not in the negative group (0.6 ± 0.1 to 0.7 ± 0.1°C). A Δtemp of 0.9°C conferred a positive predictive value of 85% for SCV BAT, superior to that of SCV temperature. The findings were similar on the right. In conclusion, the Δtemp is significantly and consistently greater in BAT‐positive subjects. The Δtemp quantified by IRT after 2‐h cooling shows promise as a noninvasive convenient technique for studying SCV BAT function.
Using infrared thermography (IRT), we observed the skin temperature of the supraclavicular fossa (SCV) where brown adipose tissue (BAT) is present, to be higher than that of a control BAT‐negative chest area. This temperature difference was greater in subjects with BAT and conferred a positive predictive value of 85% for BAT benchmarked to PET/CT imaging. IRT shows promise as a tool for detecting BAT function in humans.
PMCID: PMC4255799  PMID: 25413316
Brown adipose tissue; human; infrared thermography; thermogenesis
13.  Targeting Presynaptic Norepinephrine Transporter in Brown Adipose Tissue: A Novel Imaging Approach and Potential Treatment for Diabetes and Obesity 
Synapse (New York, N.Y.)  2012;67(2):10.1002/syn.21617.
Brown adipose tissue (BAT) plays a significant role in metabolism. In this study, we report the use of atomoxetine (a clinically applicable norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor) for 18F-FDG PET imaging of BAT and its effects on heat production and blood glucose concentration. Fasted-male Sprague-Dawley rats were administered with intravenous 18F-FDG. The same rats were treated with atomoxetine (0.1 mg/kg, i.v.) 30 min before 18F-FDG administration. To confirm the β-adrenergic effects, propranolol (β-adrenergic inhibitor) 5 mg/kg was given intraperitoneally 30 min prior to atomoxetine administration. The effect of atomoxetine on BAT metabolism was assessed in fasted and non-fasted rats and on BAT temperature and blood glucose in fasted rats. In 18F-FDG PET/CT images, interscapular BAT (IBAT) and other areas of BAT were clearly visualized. When rats were fasted, atomoxetine (0.1 mg/kg) increased the 18F-FDG uptake of IBAT by factor of 24 within 30 min. Propranolol reduced the average 18F-FDG uptake of IBAT significantly. Autoradiography of IBAT and white adipose tissue confirmed the data obtained by PET. When rats were not fasted, atomoxetine-induced increase of 18F-FDG uptake in IBAT was delayed and occurred in 120 min. For comparison, direct stimulation of β3-adrenreceptors in non-fasted rats with CL-316, 243 occurred within 30 min. Atomoxetine-induced IBAT activation was associated with higher IBAT temperature and lower blood glucose. This was mediated by inhibition of norepinephrine reuptake transporters in IBAT leading to increased norepinephrine concentration in the synapse. Increased synaptic norepinephrine activates β3-adrenreceptors resulting in BAT hypermetabolism that is visible and quantifiable by 18F-FDG PET/CT.
PMCID: PMC3808851  PMID: 23080264
atomoxetine; blood glucose; 18F-FDG PET; Brown fat
14.  Brown Adipose Tissue Can Be Activated or Inhibited within an Hour before 18F-FDG Injection: A Preliminary Study with MicroPET 
Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is emerging as a potential target for treating human obesity. It has been indicated that BAT is rich in innervations of sympathetic nerve control. Using 18F-FDG microPET imaging, this study aims at evaluating how factors related to sympathetic activation/inhibition changed BAT metabolism of mice. BAT 18F-FDG uptake were semiquantitatively evaluated in different groups of mice under temperature (cold or warm stimulus) or pharmacological interventions (norepinephrine, epinephrine, isoprenaline, or propranolol) and were compared with the corresponding controls. It was found that BAT activation can be stimulated by cold exposure (P = 1.96 × 10−4), norepinephrine (P = .002), or both (P = 2.19 × 10−6) within an hour before 18F-FDG injection and can also be alleviated by warming up (P = .001) or propranolol lavage (P = .027). This preliminary study indicated that BAT function could be evaluated by 18F-FDG PET imaging through short-term interventions, which paved the way for further investigation of the relationship between human obesity and BAT dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC3085214  PMID: 21541240
15.  Positive effects of brown adipose tissue on femoral bone structure 
Bone  2013;58:10.1016/j.bone.2013.10.007.
Recent studies suggest a link between brown adipose tissue (BAT) and bone. The purpose of our study was to investigate the effects of BAT on femoral bone structure.
Materials and Methods
We studied 105 patients (19 m, 86 f, mean age 45.5±16.1 y) who underwent F18-FDG positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) for benign etiologies (n=20) or follow-up of successfully treated malignancies (n=85); mean time between PET/CT and last form of treatment was 14.8±18.0 months. BAT volume by PET/CT; femoral bone structure by CT (total femoral cross-sectional area (CSA), cortical CSA); thigh muscle CSA and thigh subcutaneous fat CSA by CT were assessed.
There were positive correlations between BAT volume and total femoral CSA and cortical CSA, independent of age, BMI and history of malignancy (P<0.05). BAT volume correlated positively with thigh muscle CSA and thigh fat CSA (p<0.05). When total femoral CSA was entered as a dependent variable and BAT volume, age and BMI as independent variables in a forward stepwise regression model, BAT volume was the only predictor of total femoral CSA. When femoral cortical CSA was entered as a dependent variable and BAT volume, age and BMI as independent variables, BAT volume was the only predictor of femoral cortical CSA.
BAT volume is a positive predictor of femoral bone structure and correlates positively with thigh muscle and subcutaneous fat, possibly mediated by muscle. These results provide further evidence of a positive effect of BAT on bone.
PMCID: PMC3855336  PMID: 24140784
brown adipose tissue (BAT); bone; structure; muscle; fat
16.  Quantification of Human and Rodent Brown Adipose Tissue Function Using 99mTc-methoxyisobutylisonitrile SPECT/CT and 18F-FDG PET/CT 
For brown adipose tissue (BAT) to be effective at consuming calories, its blood flow must increase enough to provide sufficient fuel to sustain energy expenditure and also transfer the heat created to avoid thermal injury. Here we used a combination of human and rodent models to assess changes in BAT blood flow and glucose utilization.
99mTc-methoxyisobutylisonitrile (MIBI) SPECT (n=7) and SPECT/CT (n=74) scans done in adult humans for parathyroid imaging were reviewed for uptake in regions consistent with human BAT. Site-directed biopsies of subcutaneous and deep neck fat were obtained for electron microscopy and gene expression profiling. In mice, tissue perfusion was measured with 99mTc-MIBI (n=16) and glucose uptake with 18F-FDG (n=16). Animals were fasted overnight, anesthetized with pentobarbital, and given intraperitoneally either the β3-adrenergic receptor agonist CL-316,243 (CL) 1mg/kg (n=8) or saline (n=8) followed by radiotracer injection 5 minutes later. After 120 minutes, mice were imaged using SPECT/CT or PET/CT. Vital signs were recorded over 30 minutes during the imaging. BAT, white adipose tissue (WAT), muscle, liver, and heart were resected, and tissue uptake of both 99mTc-MIBI and 18F-FDG were quantified by percent injected dose (%ID) per gram of tissue and normalized to per kilogram of total body weight (%ID/g*kg).
In 5.4% (4/74) patients, 99mTc-MIBI SPECT/CT showed increased retention in cervical and supraclavicular fat that displayed multilocular lipid droplets, dense capillary investment, and a high concentration of ovoid mitochondria. Expression levels of the tissue-specific uncoupling protein-1 (UCP1) were 180x higher in the BAT compared to the subcutaneous WAT (P < 0.001). In mice, BAT tissue perfusion increased by 61% (P < 0.01), with no significant changes in blood flow to WAT, muscle, heart, or liver. CL increased glucose uptake in BAT even more, by 440% (P < 0.01).
Pharmacologic activation of BAT requires increased blood flow to deliver glucose and oxygen for thermogenesis. However, the glucose consumption far exceeds the vascular response. These findings demonstrate that activated BAT increases glucose uptake beyond what might occur by increased blood flow alone and suggest that activated BAT likely uses glucose for non-thermogenic purposes.
PMCID: PMC4012367  PMID: 24071505
brown fat; blood flow; glucose uptake
17.  Quantitative assessment of brown adipose tissue metabolic activity and volume using 18F-FDG PET/CT and β3-adrenergic receptor activation 
EJNMMI Research  2011;1:30.
Brown adipose tissue [BAT] metabolism in vivo is vital for the development of novel strategies in combating obesity and diabetes. Currently, BAT is activated at low temperatures and measured using 2-deoxy-2-18F-fluoro-D-glucose [18F-FDG] positron-emission tomography [PET]. We report the use of β3-adrenergic receptor-mediated activation of BAT at ambient temperatures using (R, R)-5-[2-[2,3-(3-chlorphenyl)-2-hydroxyethyl-amino]propyl]-1,3-benzodioxole-2,2-dicarboxylate, disodium salt [CL316,243] (a selective β3-adrenoceptor agonist) and measured by 18F-FDG PET/computed tomography [CT].
Control and CL316,243-treated (2 mg/kg) male Sprague-Dawley rats were administered with 18F-FDG for PET/CT studies and were compared to animals at cold temperatures. Receptor-blocking experiments were carried out using propranolol (5 mg/kg). Dose effects of CL316,243 were studied by injecting 0.1 to 1 mg/kg 30 min prior to 18F-FDG administration. Imaging results were confirmed by autoradiography, and histology was done to confirm BAT activation.
CL316,243-activated interscapular BAT [IBAT], cervical, periaortic, and intercostal BATs were clearly visualized by PET. 18F-FDG uptake of IBAT was increased 12-fold by CL316,243 vs. 1.1-fold by cold exposure when compared to controls. 18F-FDG uptake of the CL-activated IBAT was reduced by 96.0% using intraperitoneal administration of propranolol. Average 18F-FDG uptake of IBAT increased 3.6-, 3.5-, and 7.6-fold by doses of 0.1, 0.5, and 1 mg/kg CL, respectively. Ex vivo 18F-FDG autoradiography and histology of transverse sections of IBAT confirmed intense uptake in the CL-activated group and activated IBAT visualized by PET.
Our study indicated that BAT metabolic activity could be evaluated by 18F-FDG PET using CL316,243 at ambient temperature in the rodent model. This provides a feasible and reliable method to study BAT metabolism.
PMCID: PMC3250993  PMID: 22214183
BAT; CL316,243; β3-adrenoceptor; 18F-FDG; obesity
18.  18F-Fluorobenzyl Triphenyl Phosphonium: A Noninvasive Sensor of Brown Adipose Tissue Thermogenesis 
Recent studies have proposed activation of brown adipose tissue (BAT) thermogenesis as a new strategy to combat obesity. Currently, there is no effective noninvasive imaging agent to directly detect unstimulated BAT and quantify the core mechanism of mitochondrial thermogenesis. We investigated an approach to detect BAT depots and monitor thermogenesis using the mitochondria-targeting voltage sensor radiolabeled fluorobenzyltriphenyl phosphonium (FBnTP).
18F-FBnTP, 14C-FBnTP, 18F-FDG, and 99mTc-sestamibi uptake in BAT at room temperature (n = 8) and cold-treated (n = 8) Lewis rats was assayed. The effect of the cold condition on 18F-FBnTP retention in BAT was assessed in 8 treated and 16 control rats. The effect of the noradrenergic inhibitor propranolol on 14C-FBnTP response to cold stimulation was investigated in an additional 8 treated and 8 control mice.
At room temperature, 18F-FBnTP accumulated in BAT to an extent similar to that in the heart, second only to the kidney and twice as much as 99mTc-sestamibi. Prior exposure to cold (4 °C) for 4 h resulted in an 82% decrease of 14C-FBnTP uptake and an 813% increase of 18F-FDG uptake in BAT. 99mTc-sestamibi uptake was not affected by cold. Administration of 18F-FBnTP at room temperature 60 min before 120 and 240 min of exposure to cold resulted in marked washout of the tracer from BAT. Propranolol significantly diminished the effect of cold on 14C-FBnTP and 18F-FDG uptake into BAT.
The intense uptake of 18F-FBnTP into BAT at room temperature and the response to cold stimulation suggest the unique potential advantage of 18F-FBnTP not only in detecting unstimulated BAT at high contrast but also in quantifying the mitochondrial thermogenic activity. 18F-FBnTP PET may serve as a useful technique to assess BAT volume and function.
PMCID: PMC4332805  PMID: 21498536
PET; 18F-FBnTP; 18F-FDG; brown adipose tissue; thermogenesis
19.  Brown Adipose Tissue in Morbidly Obese Subjects 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(2):e17247.
Cold-stimulated adaptive thermogenesis in brown adipose tissue (BAT) to increase energy expenditure is suggested as a possible therapeutic target for the treatment of obesity. We have recently shown high prevalence of BAT in adult humans, which was inversely related to body mass index (BMI) and body fat percentage (BF%), suggesting that obesity is associated with lower BAT activity. Here, we examined BAT activity in morbidly obese subjects and its role in cold-induced thermogenesis (CIT) after applying a personalized cooling protocol. We hypothesize that morbidly obese subjects show reduced BAT activity upon cold exposure.
Methods and Findings
After applying a personalized cooling protocol for maximal non-shivering conditions, BAT activity was determined using positron-emission tomography and computed tomography (PET-CT). Cold-induced BAT activity was detected in three out of 15 morbidly obese subjects. Combined with results from lean to morbidly obese subjects (n = 39) from previous study, the collective data show a highly significant correlation between BAT activity and body composition (P<0.001), respectively explaining 64% and 60% of the variance in BMI (r = 0.8; P<0.001) and BF% (r = 0.75; P<0.001). Obese individuals demonstrate a blunted CIT combined with low BAT activity. Only in BAT-positive subjects (n = 26) mean energy expenditure was increased significantly upon cold exposure (51.5±6.7 J/s versus 44.0±5.1 J/s, P = 0.001), and the increase was significantly higher compared to BAT-negative subjects (+15.5±8.9% versus +3.6±8.9%, P = 0.001), indicating a role for BAT in CIT in humans.
This study shows that in an extremely large range of body compositions, BAT activity is highly correlated with BMI and BF%. BAT-positive subjects showed higher CIT, indicating that BAT is also in humans involved in adaptive thermogenesis. Increasing BAT activity could be a therapeutic target in (morbid) obesity.
PMCID: PMC3044745  PMID: 21390318
20.  Intravenous administration of diazepam significantly reduces brown fat activity on 18F-FDG PET/CT 
Brown adipose tissue (BAT) activity on 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) PET/CT can introduce an undesirable element of complexity when attempting to discern physiologic activity from more ominous entities. Recent studies have demonstrated several methods to reduce BAT FDG uptake. Benzodiazepines, however, have yet to been proven effective against BAT.
Twenty-five patients with increased BAT FDG uptake were selected retrospectively from our PET/CT database between November 2004 and January 2011. These patients had been asked to return on a different day for repeat scanning with 5mg of intravenous diazepam, administered ten minutes prior to FDG. Two patients underwent this procedure on a second occasion (for a follow-up scan at a later date), thus resulting in a total of twenty-seven scans from twenty five patients. FDG uptake in BAT was recorded using the maximum standardized uptake value (SUVmax).
The mean basal BAT SUVmax was 10.1 ± 4.6 compared to a mean SUVmax of 2.8 ± 3.3 post IV diazepam (p < 0.0001). Approximately 89% (24 of 27) of scans had no significant residual BAT activity. The three remaining scans had a reduction in SUVmax ranging from 23-64% following diazepam administration. No adverse effects were noted.
We observed a significant reduction in brown fat activity in para-spinal, cervical, mediastinal, para-adrenal, and supra- and infra-clavicular regions on PET/CT following premedication with intravenous diazepam. We feel that IV benzodiazepines should be considered a pharmacologic option for reducing BAT FDG uptake, which in turn, will aid in distinguishing physiologic metabolic activity from pathology.
PMCID: PMC3477718  PMID: 23133792
Brown adipose tissue; diazepam; 18F-FDG PET
21.  Periaortic Brown Adipose Tissue as a Major Determinant of [18F]-Fluorodeoxyglucose Vascular Uptake in Atherosclerosis-Prone, ApoE−/− Mice 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e99441.
[18F]-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) has been suggested for the clinical and experimental imaging of inflammatory atherosclerotic lesions. Significant FDG uptake in brown adipose tissue (BAT) has been observed both in humans and mice. The objective of the present study was to investigate the influence of periaortic BAT on apolipoprotein E-deficient (apoE−/−) mouse atherosclerotic lesion imaging with FDG.
ApoE−/− mice (36±2 weeks-old) were injected with FDG (12±2 MBq). Control animals (Group A, n = 7) were injected conscious and kept awake at room temperature (24°C) throughout the accumulation period. In order to minimize tracer activity in periaortic BAT, Group B (n = 7) and C (n = 6) animals were injected under anaesthesia at 37°C and Group C animals were additionally pre-treated with propranolol. PET/CT acquisitions were performed prior to animal euthanasia and ex vivo analysis of FDG biodistribution.
Autoradiographic imaging indicated higher FDG uptake in atherosclerotic lesions than in the normal aortic wall (all groups, P<0.05) and the blood (all groups, P<0.01) which correlated with macrophage infiltration (R = 0.47; P<0.001). However, periaortic BAT uptake was either significantly higher (Group A, P<0.05) or similar (Group B and C, P = NS) to that observed in atherosclerotic lesions and was shown to correlate with in vivo quantified aortic FDG activity.
Periaortic BAT FDG uptake was identified as a confounding factor while using FDG for the non-invasive imaging of mouse atherosclerotic lesions.
PMCID: PMC4108473  PMID: 25054923
22.  Does Brown Fat Protect Against Diseases of Aging? 
Ageing research reviews  2009;9(1):69.
The most commonly studied laboratory rodents possess a specialized form of fat called brown adipose tissue (BAT) that generates heat to help maintain body temperature in cold environments. In humans, BAT is abundant during embryonic and early postnatal development, but is absent or present in relatively small amounts in adults where it is located in paracervical and supraclavicular regions. BAT cells can `burn' fatty acid energy substrates to generate heat because they possess large numbers of mitochondria in which oxidative phosphorylation is uncoupled from ATP production as a result of a transmembrane proton leak mediated by uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1). Studies of rodents in which BAT levels are either increased or decreased have revealed a role for BAT in protection against diet-induced obesity. Data suggest that individuals with low levels of BAT are prone to obesity, insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease, whereas those with higher levels of BAT maintain lower body weights and exhibit superior health as they age. BAT levels decrease during aging, and dietary energy restriction increases BAT activity and protects multiple organ systems including the nervous system against age-related dysfunction and degeneration. Future studies in which the effects of specific manipulations of BAT levels and thermogenic activity on disease processes in animal models (diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancers, neurodegenerative diseases) are determined will establish if and how BAT affects the development and progression of age-related diseases. Data from animal studies suggest that BAT and mitochondrial uncoupling can be targeted for interventions to prevent and treat obesity and age-related diseases. Examples include: diet and lifestyle changes; specific regimens of mild intermittent stress; drugs that stimulate BAT formation and activity; induction of brown adipose cell progenitors in muscle and other tissues; and transplantation of brown adipose cells.
PMCID: PMC2818667  PMID: 19969105
23.  Anatomical and Functional Assessment of Brown Adipose Tissue by Magnetic Resonance Imaging 
Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.)  2012;20(7):1519-1526.
Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is the primary tissue responsible for nonshivering thermogenesis in mammals. The amount of BAT and its level of activation help regulate the utilization of excessive calories for thermogenesis as opposed to storage in white adipose tissue (WAT) which would lead to weight gain. Over the past several years, BAT activity in vivo has been primarily assessed by positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET-CT) scan using 2-[18F]-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (18F-FDG) to measure glucose utilization associated with BAT mitochondrial respiration. In this study, we demonstrate the feasibility of mapping and estimating BAT volume and metabolic function in vivo in rats at a 9.4T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner using sequences available from clinical MR scanners. Based on the morphological characteristics of BAT, we measured the volume distribution of BAT with MRI sequences that have strong fat–water contrast. We also investigated BAT volume by utilizing spin-echo MRI sequences. The in vivo MRI-estimated BAT volumes were correlated with direct measurement of BAT mass from dissected samples. Using MRI, we also were able to map hemodynamic responses to changes in BAT metabolism induced pharmacologically by β3-adrenergic receptor agonist, CL-316,243 and compare this to BAT activity in response to CL-316,243 assessed by PET 18F-FDG. In conclusion, we demonstrate the feasibility of measuring BAT volume and function in vivo using routine MRI sequences. The MRI measurement of BAT volume is consistent with quantitative measurement of the tissue ex vivo.
PMCID: PMC4383098  PMID: 22343821
24.  Supraclavicular Skin Temperature as a Measure of 18F-FDG Uptake by BAT in Human Subjects 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e98822.
Brown adipose tissue (BAT) has emerged as a novel player in energy homeostasis in humans and is considered a potential new target for combating obesity and related diseases. The current ‘gold standard’ for quantification of BAT volume and activity is cold-induced 18F-FDG uptake in BAT. However, use of this technique is limited by cost and radiation exposure. Given the fact that BAT is a thermogenic tissue, mainly located in the supraclavicular region, the aim of the current study was to investigate whether cold-induced supraclavicular skin temperature and core body temperature may be alternative markers of BAT activation in humans.
BAT volume and activity were measured in 24 healthy lean adolescent males (mean age 24.1±0.8 years), using cold-induced 18F-FDG uptake with PET-CT. Core body temperature was measured continuously in the small intestine with use of an ingestible telemetric capsule and skin temperature was measured by eighteen wireless iButtons attached to the skin following ISO-defined locations.
Proximal and distal (hand/feet) skin temperatures markedly decreased upon cold exposure, while supraclavicular skin temperature significantly increased (35.2±0.1 vs. 35.5±0.1°C, p = 0.001). Furthermore, cold-induced supraclavicular skin temperature positively correlated with both total (R2 = 0.28, P = 0.010) and clavicular BAT volume (R2 = 0.20, P = 0.030) and clavicular SUVmax (R2 = 0.27, P = 0.010), while core body temperature did not.
Supraclavicular skin temperature as measured by iButtons may have predictive value for BAT detection in adult humans. This is highly desirable considering the increasing interest in pharmacological interventions to stimulate BAT in human subjects.
Trial Registration
NTR 2473
PMCID: PMC4055666  PMID: 24922545
25.  Vagus Nerve Stimulation Increases Energy Expenditure: Relation to Brown Adipose Tissue Activity 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e77221.
Human brown adipose tissue (BAT) activity is inversely related to obesity and positively related to energy expenditure. BAT is highly innervated and it is suggested the vagus nerve mediates peripheral signals to the central nervous system, there connecting to sympathetic nerves that innervate BAT. Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is used for refractory epilepsy, but is also reported to generate weight loss. We hypothesize VNS increases energy expenditure by activating BAT.
Methods and Findings
Fifteen patients with stable VNS therapy (age: 45±10yrs; body mass index; 25.2±3.5 kg/m2) were included between January 2011 and June 2012. Ten subjects were measured twice, once with active and once with inactivated VNS. Five other subjects were measured twice, once with active VNS at room temperature and once with active VNS under cold exposure in order to determine maximal cold-induced BAT activity. BAT activity was assessed by 18-Fluoro-Deoxy-Glucose-Positron-Emission-Tomography-and-Computed-Tomography. Basal metabolic rate (BMR) was significantly higher when VNS was turned on (mean change; +2.2%). Mean BAT activity was not significantly different between active VNS and inactive VNS (BAT SUVMean; 0.55±0.25 versus 0.67±0.46, P = 0.619). However, the change in energy expenditure upon VNS intervention (On-Off) was significantly correlated to the change in BAT activity (r = 0.935, P<0.001).
VNS significantly increases energy expenditure. The observed change in energy expenditure was significantly related to the change in BAT activity. This suggests a role for BAT in the VNS increase in energy expenditure. Chronic VNS may have a beneficial effect on the human energy balance that has potential application for weight management therapy.
Trial Registration
The study was registered in the Clinical Trial Register under the Identifier NCT01491282.
PMCID: PMC3806746  PMID: 24194874

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