Resurgence in the interest of brown fat physiology

Niveditha P¹, Celine D², Viji Devanand³
¹Assistant Professor,
³Professor & HOD,
Department of Physiology,
Stanley Medical College,
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

  • Brown adipose tissue was considered as a thermogenic organ only in hibernating mammals and human neonates for so long time until its presence was confirmed in human adults as an incidental finding. Apart from its well-known label as a ‘thermogenic organ’, recent interest in this field has led to the discovery of various other vital functions of brown adipocytes. In this short communication with a brief introduction about the morphology, development and differentiation of brown adipose tissue and the non-shivering thermogenesis mechanism, we intend to describe the recent findings in the field of brown fat research studies. A brief description has been given about the key role played by brown adipose tissue in the regulation of whole-body energy expenditure by maintaining glucose and lipid homeostasis, the ‘Batokines’ released by brown fat, its immune role and the link between thyroid hormones and brown fat. The key finding for the resurgence of interest in this field is the existence of two different types of brown adipose tissue, the classical brown fat and the beige or inducible brown fat and various factors which cause activation of brown fat and trans-differentiation of white adipose tissue to brown adipose tissue. Wider knowledge of brown fat physiology would help to modulate the body energy expenditure which could be a promising way to manage the global threat of metabolic syndrome.
  • Keywords: batokines, beige fat, brown adipose tissue (BAT), thermogenesis