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Logo of jphysiolThe Journal of Physiology SiteMembershipSubmissionJ Physiol
J Physiol. Nov 1969; 205(1): 51–59.
PMCID: PMC1348624

Fat metabolism and heat production in young rabbits

Abstract

1. The rates of oxygen consumption were measured in 6-8-day-old rabbits at 34 and 15° C after varying periods of starvation and cold exposure. At the start of the experiment the rabbits had been fasted for 24 hr. Eight rabbits were studied immediately, six after 24 and six after 48 hr in a cold environment (20° C), and twelve after a further 48 hr in a warm environment (34° C). All the animals had a similar increase in oxygen consumption during the final hour of cold exposure (15° C).

2. The rabbits kept at 20° C lost 83% of the fat stored in their brown adipose tissue within 24 hr and a further 11% in the next 24 hr. The fat content of white adipose tissue had fallen by 75% at 48 hr. In contrast rabbits kept unfed at 34° C had lost 47% of the fat in brown adipose tissue and 44% of the fat in white adipose tissue after 48 hr.

3. In six rabbits subcutaneous thermocouples demonstrated that local heat production continued in brown adipose tissue after 48 hr cold exposure.

4. In the rabbits kept at 34° C the final cold exposure caused a large increase in the serum free fatty acid and glycerol concentrations. Much lower concentrations were found in rabbits kept at 20° C.

5. The results show that the fat stored in the brown adipose tissue of young rabbits exposed to cold is preferentially used for heat production. When this store of fat is exhausted, brown adipose tissue still produces heat presumably by oxidizing fat and glucose taken from the circulation.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • BERNARD E, HULL D. THE EFFECT OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL TEMPERATURE ON THE GROWTH OF NEW-BORN RABBITS REARED IN INCUBATORS. Biol Neonat. 1964;7:172–178. [PubMed]
  • DAVIES JS, WIDDOWSON EM, MCCANCE RA. THE INTAKE OF MILK AND THE RETENTION OF ITS CONSTITUENTS WHILE THE NEWBORN RABBIT DOUBLES ITS WEIGHT. Br J Nutr. 1964;18:385–392. [PubMed]
  • Hardman MJ, Hey EN, Hull D. The effect of prolonged cold exposure on heat production in new-born rabbits. J Physiol. 1969 Nov;205(1):39–50. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Hardman MJ, Hull D. The effects of age and environmental temperature on the blood concentrations of glucose, free fatty acids and glycerol in new-born rabbits. J Physiol. 1969 May;201(3):685–694. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • HULL D. OXYGEN CONSUMPTION AND BODY TEMPERATURE OF NEW-BORN RABBITS AND KITTENS EXPOSED TO COLD. J Physiol. 1965 Mar;177:192–202. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Hull D, Segall MM. The contribution of brown adipose tissue to heat production in the new-born rabbit. J Physiol. 1965 Dec;181(3):449–457. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Hull D, Segall MM. Distinction of brown from white adipose tissue. Nature. 1966 Oct 29;212(5061):469–472. [PubMed]
  • PALAY SL, KARLIN LJ. An electron microscopic study of the intestinal villus. II. The pathway of fat absorption. J Biophys Biochem Cytol. 1959 May 25;5(3):373–384. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • WILLIAMSON JR. ADIPOSE TISSUE. MORPHOLOGICAL CHANGES ASSOCIATED WITH LIPID MOBILIZATION. J Cell Biol. 1964 Jan;20:57–74. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

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