Brown Adipose Tissue Activation Is Linked to Distinct Systemic Effects on Lipid Metabolism in Humans

Chondronikola M, Volpi E, Børsheim E, Porter C, Saraf MK, Annamalai P, Yfanti C, Chao T, Wong D, Shinoda K, Labbė SM, Hurren NM, Cesani F, Kajimura S, Sidossis LS.
Cell Metab.
Publication Date: 
Tue, 2016-06-14
Recent studies suggest that brown adipose tissue (BAT) plays a role in energy and glucose metabolism in humans. However, the physiological significance of human BAT in lipid metabolism remains unknown. We studied 16 overweight/obese men during prolonged, non-shivering cold and thermoneutral conditions using stable isotopic tracer methodologies in conjunction with hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamps and BAT and white adipose tissue (WAT) biopsies. BAT volume was significantly associated with increased whole-body lipolysis, triglyceride-free fatty acid (FFA) cycling, FFA oxidation, and adipose tissue insulin sensitivity. Functional analysis of BAT and WAT demonstrated the greater thermogenic capacity of BAT compared to WAT, while molecular analysis revealed a cold-induced upregulation of genes involved in lipid metabolism only in BAT. The accelerated mobilization and oxidation of lipids upon BAT activation supports a putative role for BAT in the regulation of lipid metabolism in humans.