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Substantial Metabolic Activity of Human Brown Adipose Tissue during Warm Conditions and Cold-Induced Lipolysis of Local Triglycerides

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Brian WalkerORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Current understanding of in vivo human brown adipose tissue (BAT) physiology is limited by a reliance on positron emission tomography (PET)/computed tomography (CT) scanning, which has measured exogenous glucose and fatty acid uptake but not quantified endogenous substrate utilization by BAT. Six lean, healthy men underwent 18fluorodeoxyglucose-PET/CT scanning to localize BAT so microdialysis catheters could be inserted in supraclavicular BAT under CT guidance and in abdominal subcutaneous white adipose tissue (WAT). Arterial and dialysate samples were collected during warm (~25°C) and cold exposure (~17°C), and blood flow was measured by 133xenon washout. During warm conditions, there was increased glucose uptake and lactate release and decreased glycerol release by BAT compared with WAT. Cold exposure increased blood flow, glycerol release, and glucose and glutamate uptake only by BAT. This novel use of microdialysis reveals that human BAT is metabolically active during warm conditions. BAT activation substantially increases local lipolysis but also utilization of other substrates such as glutamate.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Weir G, Ramage LE, Akyol N, Rhodes JK, Kyle CJ, Fletcher AM, Craven TH, Wakelin SJ, Drake AJ, Gregoriades M-L, Ashton C, Weir N, van Beek EJR, Karpe F, Walker BR, Stimson RH

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Cell Metabolism

Year: 2018

Volume: 27

Issue: 6

Pages: 1348-1355.e4

Print publication date: 05/06/2018

Online publication date: 24/05/2018

Acceptance date: 27/04/2018

Date deposited: 04/05/2018

ISSN (print): 1550-4131

ISSN (electronic): 1932-7420

Publisher: Cell Press


DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2018.04.020


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Funder referenceFunder name
edical Research Council (R.H.S., MR/K010271/1)
Wellcome Trust Investi- gator Award (107049/Z/15/Z)