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Int J Obes (Lond). 2010 Oct;34 Suppl 1:S17-22. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2010.178.

Transcriptional control of brown adipocyte development and thermogenesis.

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  • 1Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Institute for Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, USA.


Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is a specialized endothermic tissue in eutherian mammals that protects against hypothermia. Heat production by BAT may also be stimulated by overfeeding as an apparent counter regulatory mechanism to prevent excessive adipose accumulation. Genetic studies in rodents have overwhelmingly demonstrated an antiobesity effect for BAT. There is thus substantial biomedical interest in developing methods to increase the amount or function of BAT as a means to combat obesity. Furthermore, the recent discovery that adult humans have rather significant amounts of active BAT raises speculation that this tissue may naturally affect body weight in humans. Recent advances in our understanding of the transcriptional regulation of brown adipocyte development and adaptive thermogenesis are reviewed here.

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