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Adipocyte. 2012 Oct 1;1(4):250-255.

Therapeutic value of brown adipose tissue: Correcting metabolic disease through generating healthy fat.

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Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics; Vanderbilt University Medical Center; Nashville, TN USA.


Brown adipose tissue (BAT), an important endocrine organ long known for thermogenesis and energy consumption, has received much attention in recent years for its potential to combat obesity. In general, BAT can enhance metabolism and improve overall health. Our recent work demonstrates the ability of embryonic BAT transplants to correct type 1 diabetes (T1D) without insulin, via mechanisms somewhat different from those involved in BAT-associated weight loss. BAT transplants seem to reverse T1D by decreasing inflammation and increasing functionality in the surrounding white adipose tissue (WAT), thereby enabling it to secrete hypoglycemic adipokines, which compensate for the function of insulin. Thus BAT can transform unhealthy WAT to a healthy status, sufficient to replace the function of endocrine pancreas and establish insulin-independent glycemic regulation. Several studies, including ours, demonstrate the remarkable ability of BAT to correct metabolic disorders and hint at its beneficial effects on inflammation. Hence, addition of more BAT to the body, through transplantation or stimulating regeneration, may well be the therapy of the future for the simple correction of numerous diseases.


brown adipose tissue; obesity; transplants; type 1 diabetes; white adipose tissue

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