Brown Adipose Tissue in Human Infants
Adapting to the cold extrauterine environment after birth is a great challenge for the newborn. Due to their high surface area-to-volume ratio, infants tend to lose more heat to the environment as compared to adults. In addition, human newborns lack sufficiently developed skeletal muscle mass to maintain body temperature through shivering thermogenesis, an important source of heat in cold-exposed adults. Evolution has provided humans and other placental mammals with brown adipose tissue (BAT), a tissue that converts chemically stored energy, in the form of fatty acids and glucose, into heat through non-shivering thermogenesis. The thermogenic activity of this tissue is significant for the human infant’s ability to maintain a sufficiently high core body temperature. Although BAT has been studied in human infants for more than a century, the literature covering different aspects of the tissue is rather limited. The aim of this review is to summarize the literature and describe what is actually known about the tissue and its importance for early human life.
KeywordsBrown adipose tissue Fetal Human Infant
The author is supported by the Swedish Research Council, Wilhelm and Martina Lundgren’s Foundation, and The Royal Society of Arts and Sciences in Gothenburg.
- Cypess AM, White AP, Vernochet C, Schulz TJ, Xue R, Sass CA, Huang TL, Roberts-Toler C, Weiner LS, Sze C, Chacko AT, Deschamps LN, Herder LM, Truchan N, Glasgow AL, Holman AR, Gavrila A, Hasselgren PO, Mori MA, Molla M, Tseng YH (2013) Anatomical localization, gene expression profiling and functional characterization of adult human neck brown fat. Nat Med 19:635–639CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Hatai S (1902) On the presence in human embryos of an interscapular gland corresponding to the so-called hibernating gland of lower mammals. Anat Anz 21:369–373Google Scholar
- Velickovic K, Cvoro A, Srdic B, Stokic E, Markelic M, Golic I, Otasevic V, Stancic A, Jankovic A, Vucetic M, Buzadzic B, Korac B, Korac A (2014) Expression and subcellular localization of estrogen receptors alpha and beta in human fetal brown adipose tissue. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 99:151–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Vishvanath L, MacPherson KA, Hepler C, Wang QA, Shao M, Spurgin SB, Wang MY, Kusminski CM, Morley TS, Gupta RK (2016) Pdgfrbeta+ mural preadipocytes contribute to adipocyte hyperplasia induced by high-fat-diet feeding and prolonged cold exposure in adult mice. Cell Metab 23:350–359CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Wu J, Boström P, Sparks LM, Ye L, Choi JH, Giang AH, Khandekar M, Virtanen KA, Nuutila P, Schaart G, Huang K, Tu H, van Marken Lichtenbelt WD, Hoeks J, Enerbäck S, Schrauwen P, Spiegelman BM (2012) Beige adipocytes are a distinct type of thermogenic fat cell in mouse and human. Cell 150:366–376CrossRefGoogle Scholar