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J Ultrastruct Mol Struct Res. 1986 Oct-Dec;97(1-3):119-29.

The effect of intermittent cold treatment on the adipose tissue of the cat. Apparent transformation from white to brown adipose tissue.

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Institute of Histology and Embryology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Zagreb, Yugoslavia.


Young cats (Felis domestica), aged 10-13 weeks, were intermittently exposed to a temperature of -30 degrees C for two periods of 1 hr per day. Animals were sacrificed on the 7th day and adipose tissue from the perirenal, pericardial, axillary, interscapular, and subcutaneous-inguinal depots was examined by electron microscopy and analysed stereologically. All examined depots were morphologically changed after cold treatment. Adipose tissue of perirenal, pericardial, and axillary depots showed a greater decrease in lipid content than the interscapular and subcutaneous-inguinal depots, but other changes were similar. Compared to the control group, which consisted of typical white adipose tissue, the diameter of adipose cells examined after cold treatment was diminished, in extreme cases to 18 micron (from 75 micron in the control group). The number of capillaries per cell was doubled (as evaluated on semithin sections). The most dramatic changes were observed in the mitochondria. Their volume increased to 0.48 micron 3 (from 0.13 micron 3 in the control), and the surface density of mitochondrial cristae per mitochondrial volume increased to 50 micron 2/micron 3 (from 32 in the control). Pleomorphism in mitochondrial size and inner structure and the presence of intramitochondrial electron-dense bodies and crystalline structures led us to conclude that the cold stress induced an increase in the absolute number of mitochondria in the adipose cells. The adipose tissue after cold treatment thus morphologically resembled the brown adipose tissue of cold-acclimated rodents. This implies that the adipose tissue of young cats can change its morphology and function, depending on the requirements of the organism.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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