Brown adipose tissue (BAT) has thermogenic potential. For its activation, cold exposure is considered a critical factor though other determinants have also been reported. The purpose of this study was to assess the relationship between neoplastic status and BAT activity by 2-deoxy-2-[18F]fluoro-D-glucose (18F-FDG) positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) in people living in the tropics, where the influence of outdoor temperature was low.
18F-FDG PET/CT scans were reviewed and the total metabolic activity (TMA) of identified activated BAT quantified. The distribution and TMA of activated BAT were compared between patients with and without a cancer history. The neoplastic status of patients was scored according to their cancer history and 18F-FDG PET/CT findings. We evaluated the relationships between the TMA of BAT and neoplastic status along with other factors: age, body mass index, fasting blood sugar, gender, and outdoor temperature.
Thirty of 1740 patients had activated BAT. Those with a cancer history had wider BAT distribution (p = 0.043) and a higher TMA (p = 0.028) than those without. A higher neoplastic status score was associated with a higher average TMA. Multivariate analyses showed that neoplastic status was the only factor significantly associated with the TMA of activated BAT (p = 0.016).
Neoplastic status is a critical determinant of BAT activity in patients living in the tropics. More active neoplastic status was associated with more vigorous TMA of BAT.
Neoplastic status; BAT; 18F-FDG PET
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.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
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.
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.
Recent studies have shown that adult human possess active brown adipose tissue (BAT), which might be important in controlling obesity. It is known that ß-adrenoceptor-UCP1 system regulates BAT in rodent, but its influence in adult humans remains to be shown. The present study is to determine whether BAT activity can be independently stimulated by elevated catecholamines levels in adult human, and whether it is associated with their adiposity.
We studied 14 patients with pheochromocytoma and 14 normal subjects who had performed both 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography/computed tomography (18F-FDG PET/CT) and plasma total metanephrine (TMN) measurements during 2007–2010. The BAT detection rate and the mean BAT activity were significantly higher in patients with elevated TMN levels (Group A: 6/8 and 6.7±2.1 SUVmean· g/ml) than patients with normal TMN concentrations (Group B: 0/6 and 0.4±0.04 SUVmean· g/ml) and normal subjects (Group C: 0/14 and 0.4±0.03 SUVmean·g/ml). BAT activities were positively correlated with TMN levels (R = 0.83, p<0.0001) and were inversely related to body mass index (R = −0.47, p = 0.010), visceral fat areas (R = −0.39, p = 0.044), visceral/total fat areas (R = −0.52, p = 0.0043) and waist circumferences (R = −0.43, p = 0.019). Robust regression revealed that TMN (R = 0.81, p<0.0001) and waist circumferences (R = −0.009, p = 0.009) were the two independent predictors of BAT activities.
Brown adipose tissue activity in adult human can be activated by elevated plasma TMN levels, such as in the case of patients with pheochromocytoma, and is negatively associated with central adiposity.
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.
brown fat thermogenesis; oxidative metabolism; 15O PET imaging
Several lines of evidence suggest that novel pharmacological approaches aimed at converting white adipose tissue (WAT) into brown adipose tissue (BAT) may represent an effective therapeutic strategy for obesity and related disorders. (18)F-fluorodeoxyglucose (18F-FDG) is the only positron emission tomography (PET) tracer commonly used to study BAT function, and so far no functional tools have been described to investigate in vivo white-to-brown fat conversion. In this report, we show that the PET tracer 11C-meta-hydroxyephedrine (11C-MHED, a norepinephrine analogue) is a useful tool to investigate the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activity in BAT of lean and dietary obese mice. Moreover, we demonstrate that 11C-MHED is a specific marker of the SNS-mediated thermogenesis in typical BAT depots, and that this tracer can detect in vivo WAT to BAT conversion.
Brown adipose tissue; Sympathetic activity; PET/CT imaging
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.
BAT; CL316,243; β3-adrenoceptor; 18F-FDG; obesity
Brown adipose tissue (BAT) represents a remarkable heat-producing tissue. The thermogenic potential of BAT is conferred by uncoupling protein 1, a protein found uniquely in brown adipocytes. BAT activity and capacity is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), which densely innervates brown fat depots. SNS-mediated BAT thermogenesis is essentially governed by hypothalamic and brainstem neurons. BAT activity is also modulated by brain energy balance pathways including the very significant brain melanocortin system, suggesting a genuine involvement of SNS-mediated BAT thermogenesis in energy homeostasis. The use of positron emission tomography/computed tomography scanning has revealed the presence of well-defined BAT depots in the cervical, clavicular, and paraspinal areas in adult humans. The prevalence of these depots is higher in subjects exposed to low temperature and is also higher in women compared to men. Moreover, the prevalence of BAT decreases with age and body fat mass, suggesting that BAT could be involved in energy balance regulation and obesity in humans. This short review summarizes recent progress made in our understanding of the control of SNS-mediated BAT thermogenesis and of the determinants of BAT prevalence or detection in humans.
energy balance; energy expenditure; melanocortin system; cold exposure; age; sex; environmental temperature; positron emission tomography
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.
Brown adipose tissue (BAT) was thought to disappear after infancy. Recent studies finding BAT in patients undergoing positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) have renewed the interest in deciphering the relevance of this tissue in humans. Available data suggests that BAT is more prevalent in children than in adults, and that its activation during adolescence is associated to significantly less gains in weight and adiposity. Data also shows that pediatric patients with metabolically-active BAT on PET/CT examinations have significantly greater muscle volume than patients with no identifiable BAT. Both the activity and the amount of BAT increase during puberty. The magnitude of the increase is higher in boys when compared to girls, and closely related to gains in muscle volume. Hence, concurrent with the great gains in skeletal muscle during infancy and puberty, all infants and adolescents accumulate large amounts of BAT. These observations are consistent with in vitro investigations suggesting close interactions between brown adipocytes, white adipocytes, and myocites. In this review, we discuss the potential role of this tissue in regulating weight and musculoskeletal development in children.
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.
Brown adipose tissue; diazepam; 18F-FDG PET
Purpose of review
Children and adults have two major types of adipocytes, which represent the predominant cells in white adipose tissue (WAT), which is involved in energy-storage, and brown adipose tissue (BAT) which is responsible for thermogenesis and energy expenditure. This review discusses BAT physiology and evaluates the recent discoveries regarding its development, identification, and function.
This past year multiple independent research teams using combined positron-emission tomography and computed tomography (PET/CT) imaging, immunohistochemistry, and gene and protein expression have proven conclusively that adult humans have functional BAT. In parallel, basic studies defined BAT origins, its transcriptional regulation, and the role of hormones in BAT growth and activation. These methods have begun to be applied to children to understand pediatric BAT anatomy and physiology.
Adult humans have functional BAT, which plays a role in energy balance. BAT is more prevalent in children, suggesting an even greater physiological role than that seen in adults. Future studies will identify safe ways to quantify BAT mass and activity and which interventions might be used to increase BAT mass and/or thermogenesis to treat obesity.
brown adipose tissue; energy balance; UCP-1; PET/CT
The significant roles of brown adipose tissue (BAT) in the regulation of energy expenditure and adiposity are established in small rodents but have been controversial in humans. The objective is to examine the prevalence of metabolically active BAT in healthy adult humans and to clarify the effects of cold exposure and adiposity.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
In vivo 2-[18F]fluoro-2-deoxyglucose (FDG) uptake into adipose tissue was measured in 56 healthy volunteers (31 male and 25 female subjects) aged 23–65 years by positron emission tomography (PET) combined with X-ray computed tomography (CT).
When exposed to cold (19°C) for 2 h, 17 of 32 younger subjects (aged 23–35 years) and 2 of 24 elderly subjects (aged 38–65 years) showed a substantial FDG uptake into adipose tissue of the supraclavicular and paraspinal regions, whereas they showed no detectable uptake when kept warm (27°C). Histological examinations confirmed the presence of brown adipocytes in these regions. The cold-activated FDG uptake was increased in winter compared with summer (P < 0.001) and was inversely related to BMI (P < 0.001) and total (P < 0.01) and visceral (P < 0.001) fat areas estimated from CT image at the umbilical level.
Our findings, being against the conventional view, indicate the high incidence of metabolically active BAT in adult humans and suggest a role in the control of body temperature and adiposity.
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.
We examined whether the depiction of brown adipose tissue (BAT) with positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) in pediatric patients is associated with anthropometric meaures.
We determined measures of body mass, adiposity, and musculature in 71 children and adolescents who underwent PET/CT examinations and compared patients with and without BAT. We used regression analyses to assess the relation between BAT and anthropometric measures.
A total of 30 patients (42%) had BAT depicted on PET/CT, 10 of 26 girls (38%) and 20 of 45 boys (44%). Compared with patients without functional BAT, patients with BAT had significantly greater neck musculature (1880 ± 908 cm3 versus 1299 ± 806 cm3; P = .028 for boys and 1295 ± 586 cm3 versus 854 ± 392 cm3; P = .030 for girls) and gluteus musculature (1359 ± 373 cm3 versus 1061 ± 500 cm3; P = .032 for boys and 1138 ± 425 cm3 versus 827 ± 297 cm3; P = .038 for girls), but no differences in age, body mass index, or measures of subcutaneous fat. With logistic regression analyses, neck and pelvic musculature predicted the presence of BAT independently of age, sex, body size, and season of scan (P = .018 and .009, respectively).
Pediatric patients with visualized BAT on PET/CT examinations had significantly greater muscle volume than patients with no visualized BAT.
Fusion positron emission and computed tomography (PET/CT) remains the gold-standard imaging modality to non-invasively study metabolically active brown adipose tissue (BAT). It has been widely applied to studies in adult cohorts. In contrast, the number of BAT studies in children has been few. This is largely limited by the elevated risk of ionizing radiation and radionuclide tracer usage by PET/CT and the ethical restriction of performing such exams on healthy children. However, metabolically active BAT has a significantly higher prevalence in pediatric patients, according to recent literature. Young cohorts thus represent an ideal population to examine the potential relationships of BAT to muscle development, puberty, disease state, and the accumulation of white adipose tissue. In turn, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) represents the most promising modality to overcome the limitations of PET/CT. The development of rapid, repeatable MRI techniques to identify and quantify both metabolically active and inactive BAT non-invasively and without the use of exogenous contrast agents or the need for sedation in pediatric patients are critically needed to advance our knowledge of this tissue’s physiology.
brown adipose tissue; PET/CT; Hounsfield units; children; MRI; muscle; puberty; white adipose tissue
Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is present in adult humans where it may be important in the prevention of obesity, although the main factors regulating its abundance are not well established. BAT demonstrates seasonal variation relating to ambient temperature and photoperiod in mammals. The objective of our study was therefore to determine whether seasonal variation in BAT activity in humans was more closely related to the prevailing photoperiod or temperature.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
We studied 3,614 consecutive patients who underwent positron emission tomography followed by computed tomography scans. The presence and location of BAT depots were documented and correlated with monthly changes in photoperiod and ambient temperature.
BAT activity was demonstrated in 167 (4.6%) scans. BAT was demonstrated in 52/724 scans (7.2%) in winter compared with 27/1,067 (2.5%) in summer months (P < 0.00001, χ2 test). Monthly changes in the occurrence of BAT were more closely related to differences in photoperiod (r2 = 0.876) rather than ambient temperature (r2 = 0.696). Individuals with serial scans also demonstrated strong seasonal variation in BAT activity (average standardized uptake value [SUVmax] 1.5 in July and 9.4 in January). BAT was also more common in female patients (female: n = 107, 7.2%; male: n = 60, 2.8%; P < 0.00001, χ2 test).
Our study demonstrates a very strong seasonal variation in the presence of BAT. This effect is more closely associated with photoperiod than ambient temperature, suggesting a previously undescribed mechanism for mediating BAT function in humans that could now potentially be recruited for the prevention or reversal of obesity.
Purpose of review
Human fat consists of white and brown adipose tissue (WAT and BAT). Though most fat is energy-storing WAT, the thermogenic capacity of even small amounts of BAT makes it an attractive therapeutic target for inducing weight loss through energy expenditure. This review evaluates the recent discoveries regarding the identification of functional BAT in adult humans and its potential as a therapy for obesity and diabetes.
Over the past year, several independent research teams used a combination of positron-emission tomography and computed tomography (PET/CT) imaging, immunohistochemistry, and gene and protein expression assays to prove conclusively that adult humans have functional BAT. This has occurred against a backdrop of basic studies defining the origins of BAT, new components of its transcriptional regulation, and the role of hormones in stimulation of BAT growth and differentiation.
Adult humans have functional BAT, a new target for antiobesity and antidiabetes therapies focusing on increasing energy expenditure. Future studies will refine the methodologies used to measure BAT mass and activity, expand our knowledge of critical-control points in BAT regulation, and focus on testing pharmacological agents that increase BAT thermogenesis and help achieve long-lasting weight loss and an improved metabolic profile.
adult humans; antiobesity therapy; brown adipose tissue; clinical and basic science research; PET/CT
Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is recognized as the major site of sympathetically activated nonshivering thermogenesis during cold exposure and after spontaneous hyperphagia, thereby controling whole-body energy expenditure and body fat. In adult humans, BAT has long been believed to be absent or negligible, but recent studies using fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography, in combination with computed tomography, demonstrated the existence of metabolically active BAT in healthy adult humans. Human BAT is activated by acute cold exposure, being positively correlated to cold-induced increases in energy expenditure. The metabolic activity of BAT differs among individuals, being lower in older and obese individuals. Thus, BAT is recognized as a regulator of whole-body energy expenditure and body fat in humans as in small rodents, and a hopeful target combating obesity and related disorders. In fact, there are some food ingredients such as capsaicin and capsinoids, which have potential to activate and recruit BAT via activity on the specific receptor, transient receptor potential channels, thereby increasing energy expenditure and decreasing body fat modestly and consistently.
Adipose tissue, brown; Capsinoids; Cold exposure; Energy expenditure; Non-shivering thermogenesis; Obesity; Transient receptor potential channel
Brown adipose tissue (BAT) burns fat to produce heat when the body is exposed to cold and plays a role in energy metabolism. Using fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography and computed tomography, we previously reported that BAT decreases with age and thereby accelerates age-related accumulation of body fat in humans. Thus, the recruitment of BAT may be effective for body fat reduction. In this study, we examined the effects of repeated stimulation by cold and capsinoids (nonpungent capsaicin analogs) in healthy human subjects with low BAT activity. Acute cold exposure at 19°C for 2 hours increased energy expenditure (EE). Cold-induced increments of EE (CIT) strongly correlated with BAT activity independently of age and fat-free mass. Daily 2-hour cold exposure at 17°C for 6 weeks resulted in a parallel increase in BAT activity and CIT and a concomitant decrease in body fat mass. Changes in BAT activity and body fat mass were negatively correlated. Similarly, daily ingestion of capsinoids for 6 weeks increased CIT. These results demonstrate that human BAT can be recruited even in individuals with decreased BAT activity, thereby contributing to body fat reduction.
To characterize the changes in brown adipose tissue (BAT) during puberty in boys and girls.
We examined the prevalence and the volume of BAT at different stages of sexual development in pediatric patients who underwent positron emission tomography/computer tomography (PET/CT) studies.
Of the 73 patients, 43 (59%) had BAT depicted on PET/CT. Visualized BAT was significantly less prevalent in PET/CT studies of pre-pubertal (Tanner stage 1) children than pubertal (Tanner stages 2-5) subjects (15% vs. 75%). Values for the volume of BAT also increased during puberty, but the magnitude of the increase was substantially greater during the final two stages of puberty (Tanner stage 4 or 5) than in earlier stages of sexual development (Tanner stages 1, 2, and 3) (Boys: 499±246 vs. 50±36, p <0.0001, Girls: 286±139 vs. 36±29, p = 0.024). Changes in BAT volume were also significantly greater in boys than in girls (p = 0.004) and were closely related to muscle volume (r’s = 0.52, 0.64 and both p’s<0.01, for boys and girls, respectively).
The depiction and the volume of brown fat increase during puberty. Metabolic and hormonal events related to the achievement of sexual maturity are likely responsible for the rapid increase in brown fat that occurs during puberty.
Brown adipose tissue; puberty; muscle; PET/CT
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.
Two different types of adipose tissues can be found in humans enabling them to respond to starvation and cold: white adipose tissue (WAT) is generally known and stores excess energy in the form of triacylglycerol (TG), insulates against cold, and serves as a mechanical cushion. Brown adipose tissue (BAT) helps newborns to cope with cold. BAT has the capacity to uncouple the mitochondrial respiratory chain, thereby generating heat rather than adenosine triphosphate (ATP). The previously widely held view was that BAT disappears rapidly after birth and is no longer present in adult humans. Using positron emission tomography (PET), however, it was recently shown that metabolically active BAT occurs in defined regions and scattered in WAT of the adult and possibly has an influence on whole-body energy homeostasis. In obese individuals adipose tissue is at the center of metabolic syndrome. Targeting of WAT by thiazolidinediones (TZDs), activators of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ) a ‘master’ regulator of fat cell biology, is a current therapy for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Since its unique capacity to increase energy consumption of the body and to dissipate surplus energy as heat, BAT offers new perspectives as a therapeutic target for the treatment of obesity and associated diseases such as type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Recent discoveries of new signaling pathways of BAT development give rise to new therapeutic possibilities in order to influence BAT content and activity.
‘Brite’ adipocytes; Brown adipose tissue; Positron emission tomography; Thermogenesis; Transdifferentiation; UCP1; White adipose tissue
Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is vital for proper thermogenesis during cold exposure in rodents, but until recently its presence in adult humans and its contribution to human metabolism were thought to be minimal or insignificant. Recent studies using PET with 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (18FDG) have shown the presence of BAT in adult humans. However, whether BAT contributes to cold-induced nonshivering thermogenesis in humans has not been proven. Using PET with 11C-acetate, 18FDG, and 18F-fluoro-thiaheptadecanoic acid (18FTHA), a fatty acid tracer, we have quantified BAT oxidative metabolism and glucose and nonesterified fatty acid (NEFA) turnover in 6 healthy men under controlled cold exposure conditions. All subjects displayed substantial NEFA and glucose uptake upon cold exposure. Furthermore, we demonstrated cold-induced activation of oxidative metabolism in BAT, but not in adjoining skeletal muscles and subcutaneous adipose tissue. This activation was associated with an increase in total energy expenditure. We found an inverse relationship between BAT activity and shivering. We also observed an increase in BAT radio density upon cold exposure, indicating reduced BAT triglyceride content. In sum, our study provides evidence that BAT acts as a nonshivering thermogenesis effector in humans.
We report the unique depiction of brown adipose tissue (BAT) by MRI and computed tomography (CT) in a human three month-old infant. Based on cellular differences between BAT and more lipid-rich white adipose tissue (WAT), chemical-shift MRI and CT were both capable of generating distinct signal contrasts between the two tissues and against surrounding anatomy, utilizing fat-signal fraction metrics in the former and X-ray attenuation values in the latter. While numerous BAT imaging experiments have been performed previously in rodents, the identification of BAT in humans has only recently been described with fusion positron emission and computed tomography in adults. The imaging of BAT in children has not been widely reported and furthermore, MRI of human BAT in general has not been demonstrated. In the present work, large bilateral supraclavicular BAT depots were clearly visualized with MRI and CT. Tissue identity was subsequently confirmed by histology. BAT has important implications in regulating energy metabolism and non-shivering thermogenesis and has the potential to combat the onset of weight gain and the development of obesity. Current findings suggest that BAT is present in significant amounts in children and that MRI and CT can differentiate BAT from WAT based on intrinsic tissue properties.
brown adipose tissue; white adipose tissue; histology; human; fat-signal fraction; X-ray attenuation