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J Physiol Biochem. 2015 Dec;71(4):847-53.

Can thermogenic adipocytes protect from obesity?


The role of brown adipocytes and adipocytes of a new beige type in the energy metabolism of a healthy person and in the pathogenesis of obesity has extensively been discussed in recent years. The interest to these cells has been stimulated owing to the application of new noninvasive methods for studying the metabolic activity of tissues. Using these methods, the presence of thermogenically active adipocytes in adults and their reactivity to cold stimuli have been proved. These data, together with the results of animal experiments support the idea of thermogenic fat being a direct regulator of the energy balance of man. However, for several reasons there are some objections to this viewpoint. The main objection is that the total activity of the human thermogenic adipocytes is about 100 kJ/day, i.e., it is negligible. In addition, the burn of excessive nutrients is biologically inappropriate for an organism. Therefore, the idea that obesity is caused by the decreased activity of thermogenic adipocytes is erroneous. The statement that the causes of obesity are associated with the increased efficiency of energy-dependent processes seems more reasonable. The consequence is a reduction in energy expenditure to perform a unit of biological work. This results in excess of nutrients deposited in the form of fat.

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