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Medicina (B Aires). 2001;61(5 Pt 1):597-602.

[Thyroid hormones, obesity and brown adipose tissue thermogenesis].

[Article in Spanish]

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Centro de Investigaciones de la Glándula Tiroides (CONICET), Centro de Medicina Nuclear, Hospital de Clínicas José de San Martín, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is the main site for hormone-dependent (non-shivering) thermogenesis in response to cold in lower mammals. The hypothalamus controls the cold-induced BAT activation by stimulating the sympathetic nerves and the secretion of norepinephrine (NE) in BAT. Mediated by beta-3 noradrenergic receptor and in the presence of triiodothyronine (T3), NE promotes the synthesis of the uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1). UCP1 is a 32 kDa protein located in the inner membrane of BAT mitochondria, where it dissipates the proton gradient created by oxidations in the mitochondria. UCP1 functions as a proton translocator, substituting for another translocator, the ATP synthetase. The uncoupling of oxidations and phosphorylations and the inhibition of ATP synthesis lead to dissipation as heat of all energy produced in the respiratory chain. The supply of adequate amounts of T3 is ensured by the cold-induced enhancement of the enzyme 5'-deiodinase type II activity, which deiodinates thyroxine (T4) to T3. The absence of T3 blocks UCP1 synthesis, leading to hypothermia. BAT has a limited significance in humans, except in the newborn, where it serves for a rapid acclimation to ambient temperature. The study of BAT physiology will provide more insight into the mechanisms regulating energy balance and body weight in humans, thus contributing to prevent and treat human obesity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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