Bonet ML, Oliver P, Palou A
Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Nutrition and Biotechnology-Nutrigenomics, University of the Balearic Islands, Spain.
The role of brown adipose tissue in the regulation of energy balance and maintenance of body weight is well known in rodents. Recently, interest in this tissue has re-emerged due to the realization of active brown-like adipose tissue in adult humans and inducible brown-like adipocytes in white adipose tissue depots in response to appropriate stimuli ("browning process"). Brown-like adipocytes that appear in white fat depots have been called "brite" (from brown-in-white) or "beige" adipocytes and have characteristics similar to brown adipocytes, in particular the capacity for uncoupled respiration. There is controversy as to the origin of these brite/beige adipocytes, but regardless of this, induction of the browning of white fat represents an attractive potential strategy for the management and treatment of obesity and related complications. Here, the different physiological, pharmacological and dietary determinants that have been linked to white-to-brown fat remodeling and the molecular mechanisms involved are reviewed in detail. In the light of available data, interesting therapeutic perspectives can be expected from the use of specific drugs or food compounds able to induce a program of brown fat differentiation including uncoupling protein 1 expression and enhancing oxidative metabolism in white adipose cells. However, additional research is needed, mainly focused on the physiological relevance of browning and its dietary control, where the use of ferrets and other non-rodent animal models with a more similar adipose tissue organization and metabolism to humans could be of much help. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Brown and White Fat: From Signaling to Disease.
Event date: 12/12/2012
Publication date: 30/04/2014