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BioMed Research International
Volume 2016, Article ID 2365609, 15 pages
Review Article

Novel Browning Agents, Mechanisms, and Therapeutic Potentials of Brown Adipose Tissue

1Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center, Little Rock, AR, USA
2Department of Pediatrics, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR, USA
3Duke University, Durham, NC, USA
4Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Obesity Branch, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA

Received 15 September 2016; Revised 17 November 2016; Accepted 20 November 2016

Academic Editor: Carlos Dieguez

Copyright © 2016 Umesh D. Wankhade et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Nonshivering thermogenesis is the process of biological heat production in mammals and is primarily mediated by brown adipose tissue (BAT). Through ubiquitous expression of uncoupling protein 1 (Ucp1) on the mitochondrial inner membrane, BAT displays uncoupling of fuel combustion and ATP production in order to dissipate energy as heat. Because of its crucial role in regulating energy homeostasis, ongoing exploration of BAT has emphasized its therapeutic potential in addressing the global epidemics of obesity and diabetes. The recent appreciation that adult humans possess functional BAT strengthens this prospect. Furthermore, it has been identified that there are both classical brown adipocytes residing in dedicated BAT depots and “beige” adipocytes residing in white adipose tissue depots that can acquire BAT-like characteristics in response to environmental cues. This review aims to provide a brief overview of BAT research and summarize recent findings concerning the physiological, cellular, and developmental characteristics of brown adipocytes. In addition, some key genetic, molecular, and pharmacologic targets of BAT/Beige cells that have been reported to have therapeutic potential to combat obesity will be discussed.