Send to

Choose Destination
Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2013 Sep 1;305(5):E567-72. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00250.2013. Epub 2013 Jul 9.

An endocrine role for brown adipose tissue?

Author information

Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, Barcelona, Spain; and.


White adipose tissue is recognized as both a site of energy storage and an endocrine organ that produces a myriad of endocrine factors called adipokines. Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is the main site of nonshivering thermogenesis in mammals. The amount and activity of brown adipocytes are associated with protection against obesity and associated metabolic alterations. These effects of BAT are traditionally attributed to its capacity for the oxidation of fatty acids and glucose to sustain thermogenesis. However, recent data suggest that the beneficial effects of BAT could involve a previously unrecognized endocrine role through the release of endocrine factors. Several signaling molecules with endocrine properties have been found to be released by brown fat, especially under conditions of thermogenic activation. Moreover, experimental BAT transplantation has been shown to improve glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity mainly by influencing hepatic and cardiac function. It has been proposed that these effects are due to the release of endocrine factors by brown fat, such as insulin-like growth factor I, interleukin-6, or fibroblast growth factor-21. Further research is needed to determine whether brown fat plays an endocrine role and, if so, to comprehensively identify which endocrine factors are released by BAT. Such research may reveal novel clues for the observed association between brown adipocyte activity and a healthy metabolic profile, and it could also enlarge a current view of potential therapeutic tools for obesity and associated metabolic diseases.


adipokine; batokine; brown adipose tissue; endocrine; fibroblast growth factor-21

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon
Loading ...
Support Center