Surgical removal of brown fat results in rapid and complete compensation by other depots

N. J. Rothwell, M. J. Stock

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Interscapular, scapular, and cervical brown adipose tissue (BAT) depots were removed from young male rats (BATX). These depots represented 40% of both the total dissectible mass and cytochrome oxidase content of BAT in these animals. Sham-operated and BATX rats were fed a low (8%) protein diet for periods of 9 or 16 days. Over both periods, body weight gain and energy intake, gain expenditure, and efficiency were almost identical in sham and BATX groups. Four days after lipectomy the maximal thermogenic response (increase in O2 consumption) to norepinephrine (400 μg/kg sc) was 30% lower for BATX rats than for controls, but by day 13 this difference had disappeared. Nine days after lipectomy the total mass and cytochrome oxidase activity of the remaining dissectible BAT was comparable to that of the sham-operated controls, although the protein content was slightly reduced. The specific mitochondrial GDP binding (an index of thermogenic activity) was increased significantly in BATX rats, and total BAT mitochondrial GDP binding was no different from control values. At the end of the experiment (day 16), no regeneration of excised tissue had occurred, but the remaining BAT depots had shown almost complete compensation; the mass and the oxidative and thermogenic capacity of the total dissectible brown fat were virtually identical in both groups.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26/2
JournalAJP: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1989


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