Nutritional Regulation of Human Brown Adipose Tissue

Karla J. Suchacki*, Roland H. Stimson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


The recent identification of brown adipose tissue in adult humans offers a new strategy to increase energy expenditure to treat obesity and associated metabolic disease. While white adipose tissue (WAT) is primarily for energy storage, brown adipose tissue (BAT) is a thermogenic organ that increases energy expenditure to generate heat. BAT is activated upon cold exposure and improves insulin sensitivity and lipid clearance, highlighting its beneficial role in metabolic health in humans. This review provides an overview of BAT physiology in conditions of overnutrition (obesity and associated metabolic disease), undernutrition and in conditions of altered fat distribution such as lipodystrophy. We review the impact of exercise, dietary macronutrients and bioactive compounds on BAT activity. Finally, we discuss the therapeutic potential of dietary manipulations or supplementation to increase energy expenditure and BAT thermogenesis. We conclude that chronic nutritional interventions may represent a useful nonpharmacological means to enhance BAT mass and activity to aid weight loss and/or improve metabolic health.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1748
Issue number6
Publication statusPrint publication - 21 May 2021
Externally publishedYes


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