Brown Adipose Tissue: A New Human Organ?

Shalini Ojha; Mark Birtwistle; Helen Budge; Michael E Symonds


Expert Rev Endocrinol Metab. 2013;8(2):123-125. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Metabolism & Endocrinology Themed Meeting of the Physiological Society. Brown adipose tissue: a new human organ?

The Royal Society, London, UK, 11–13 December 2012

The prevalence of obesity and overweight is increasing rapidly and functional brown adipose tissue (BAT), with its role in energy expenditure, may provide one solution. However, several key questions remain: what is the role of BAT in body metabolism, does substantial diet-induced thermogenesis exist in BAT and can it have a significant impact on total energy expenditure? Brown adipocytes are present within white adipose depots (BRITE cells) and the transcriptional control of these and classical brown adipocytes, remains an area of immense research interest. In addition, BAT has a role in lipoprotein and glucose metabolism and may play a part in aging. These, and several other burning issues around BAT, were discussed at a meeting of the Physiological Society in London, UK (11–13 December 2012).


In the context of the increasing prevalence of obesity and overweight, brown adipose tissue (BAT) has re-emerged as a potentially vital human organ. The Metabolism and Endocrinology themed meeting of the Physiological Society in London, UK (11–13 December 2012) brought together leading researchers from across the world to discuss the recent advances in BAT research. BAT has a significant role in energy balance in mammals and the potential that it may lead to a solution to the growing problem of obesity and its related morbidities is one driving force behind BAT research.