Involvement of sympathetic nervous system and brown fat in endotoxin-induced fever in rats

M. M. Jepson, D. J. Millward, N. J. Rothwell, M. J. Stock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The object of this study was to assess the role of brown adipose tissue (BAT) and the sympathetic nervous system in the rise in heat production associated with endotoxin-induced fever. Oxygen consumption (V̇O2) was found to be significantly increased (28%) over a 4-h period after two doses of endotoxin (Escherichia coli lipopolysaccharide, 0.3 mg/100 g body wt) given 24 h apart. Injection of a mixed β-adrenoceptor antagonist (propranolol) reduced V̇O2 by 14% in endotoxin-treated rats, whereas the selective β1- (atenolol) or β2- (ICI 118551) antagonists suppressed V̇O2 by 10%. These drugs did not affect V̇O2 in control animals. BAT thermogenic activity assessed from measurements of in vitro mitochondrial guanosine 5'-diphosphate (GDP) binding was elevated by 54% in interscapular BAT and by 171% in other BAT depots. Surgical denervation of one lobe of the interscapular depot prevented these responses. Endotoxin failed to stimulate GDP binding in rats fed protein-deficient diets. This may have been because BAT thermogenic activity was already elevated in control rats fed these diets or because endotoxin caused a marked suppression of food intake in the protein-deficient animals. The results indicate that sympathetic activation of BAT is involved in the thermogenic responses to endotoxin and that these can be modified by dietary manipulation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18/5
JournalAJP: Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1988


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