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Brown adipose tissue (BAT) dissipates energy stored in triglycerides as heat via the uncoupling protein UCP1. It has recently been discovered that BAT is present and active in adults. BAT is situated predominantly around the aorta and in the supraclavicular area. BAT volume and activity are lower in individuals who are obese. This suggests that BAT significantly contributes to total energy expenditure. Several pathological conditions that are accompanied by activation of BAT, such as hyperthyroidism and phaeochromocytoma, result in the increased expenditure of energy and in weight loss. Various ways in which BAT can be manipulated to increase the expenditure of energy have been identified, e.g. exposure to cold, the use of so-called uncoupling agents or the administration of the hormone irisin. The activation of BAT could potentially be used to induce weight loss.


Mariƫtte R Boon, Leontine E H Bakker, A Edo Meinders, Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt, Patrick C N Rensen, Ingrid M Jazet. Brown adipose tissue: the body's own weapon against obesity?]. Nederlands tijdschrift voor geneeskunde. 2013;157(20):A5502

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PMID: 23676126

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