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Front Physiol. 2017 Nov 2;8:863. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2017.00863. eCollection 2017.

A New Personalized Cooling Protocol to Activate Brown Adipose Tissue in Young Adults.

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PROFITH (PROmoting FITness and Health through Physical Activity) Research Group, Department of Physical Education and Sport, Faculty of Sport Sciences, University of Granada, Granada, Spain.
Division of Endocrinology, and Einthoven Laboratory for Experimental Vascular Medicine, Department of Medicine, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, Netherlands.
Servicio de Medicina Nuclear, Hospital Universitario Virgen de las Nieves, Granada, Spain.
Servicio de Medicina Nuclear, Instituto de Investigación Biosanitaria (ibs. GRANADA), Granada, Spain.
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology II, Institute of Nutrition and Food Sciences, University of Granada, Granada, Spain.
CIBEROBN, Biomedical Research Networking Center for Physiopathology of Obesity and Nutrition, Carlos III Health Institute, Madrid, Spain.


Brown adipose tissue (BAT) activity is induced when humans are exposed to cold. Therefore, cold exposure prior to the 18F-FDG-PET/CT scan is used as a tool to quantify BAT. Several cooling protocols, including fixed and personalized ones are currently in use. The aim of the present study was to determine the effect of a new personalized cooling protocol where the shivering threshold was measured on a separate day, on BAT volume and activity in young adults. A total of 47 adults (n = 28 women) aged 22 ± 2 years participated in the study. We determined participants' shivering threshold (visually and self-reported) using a water perfused cooling vest in an air-conditioned cold room. 48-72 h later, participants wore the cooling vest set at ~4°C above the shivering threshold for 60 min prior to injection of 18F-FDG and ~5°C above the shivering threshold for ~60 min after injection, until PET/CT scan. We quantified BAT following BARCIST 1.0 recommendations. We identified 40 participants (85%, n = 25 women) as PET+ and 7 (n = 3 women) as PET-. The PET+ group presented significantly higher BAT volume and activity than PET- group (all P < 0.05). PET+ women had higher BAT mean activity than PET+ men (SUVmean: 5.0 ± 1.6 vs. 3.6 ± 0.9 g/ml respectively, P = 0.003), and there were no significant sex differences in BAT volume (P = 0.161). A total of 9 out of 47 participants did not shiver during the shivering threshold test. Our findings are similar to previous cold-stimulated human BAT studies; therefore, we conclude that our personalized cooling protocol is able to activate BAT in young adults.


PET/CT scan; body temperature; cooling vest; glucose uptake; thermal perception

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