A New Era in Brown Adipose Tissue Biology: Molecular Control of Brown Fat Development and Energy Homeostasis

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Kajimura S and Saito M
The Annual Review of Physiology
Publication Date: 
Mon, 2013-11-04
Diabetes Center, Department of Cell and Tissue Biology, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143-0669 Department of Nutrition, Tenshi College, Sapporo, 065-0013, Japan
Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is specialized to dissipate chemical energy in the form of heat as a defense against cold and excessive feeding. Interest in the field of BAT biology has exploded in the past few years because of the ther- apeutic potential of BAT to counteract obesity and obesity-related diseases, including insulin resistance. Much progress has been made, particularly in the areas of BAT physiology in adult humans, developmental lineages of brown adipose cell fate, and hormonal control of BAT thermogenesis. As we enter into a new era of brown fat biology, the next challenge will be to develop strategies for activating BAT thermogenesis in adult humans to in- crease whole-body energy expenditure. This article reviews the recent major advances in this field and discusses emerging questions.