Brown and brite adipose tissues and their influence on energy balance
Brown adipose tissue was classically a tissue with scientifically interesting bioenergetic features, manifest by the unique presence of uncoupling protein-1 (UCP1) in only this tissue - but it was considered to have no metabolic significance for adult humans. The acceptance within the last years of its presence in adult humans has intensified interest in its potential ability not only to keep us warm but particularly to burn excess energy, i.e. to keep us slim, and - through its utilization of lipids and glucose - to counteract the metabolic syndrome. Although different depots of brown adipose tissue demonstrate different thermogenic potential, the primary function seems similar in all depots. The analysis of the function and significance of UCP1-containing adipose tissues in experimental animals can now probably be extrapolated to humans. The principal conclusion is that brown adipose tissue is the sole organ responsible for classical nonshivering thermogenesis, as well as for diet-induced thermogenesis, and that no other mechanisms for adaptive thermogenesis exist. The extrapolation is thus that its activity could potentially be exploited to promote human health.