Could burning fat start with a brite spark? Pharmacological and nutritional ways to promote thermogenesis

Jon Merlin, Bronwyn Anne Evans, Nodi Dehvari, Masaaki Sato, Tore Bengtsson, Dana Sabine Hutchinson

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40 Citations (Scopus)


There are two types of adipose tissue with distinct functions-white adipose tissue stores chemical energy as triglycerides, whereas brown adipose tissue consumes energy and releases heat (thermogenesis) in response to sympathetic nerve activity. In humans, treatments that promote greater brown adipose tissue deposition and/or activity would be highly beneficial in regimes aimed at reducing obesity. Adult humans have restricted populations of prototypical brown adipocytes in the neck and chest areas, but recent advances have established that adipocytes with similar properties, termed "brite" adipocytes, can be recruited in subcutaneous depots thought to be primarily white adipose tissue. These brite adipocytes express the protein machinery required for thermogenesis, but to assess brite adipocytes as viable therapeutic targets we need to understand how to promote conversion of white adipocytes to brite adipocytes and ways to increase optimal energy consumption and thermogenesis in these brite adipocytes. This can be accomplished by pharmacological and nutritional therapies to differing degrees, as reviewed in detail here.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-42
Number of pages25
JournalMolecular Nutrition & Food Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Brown adipose tissue
  • Thermogenesis
  • UCP1
  • White adipose tissue

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