Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Developmental biology

Neither fat nor flesh

In mammals, white adipose tissue stores fat, whereas brown adipose tissue burns fat. Brown adipocytes have a common origin with muscle cells, which could help explain their unusual function.

Your institute does not have access to this article

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: A revised model of the origins of fat cells.


  1. Gessner, K. Conradi Gesneri medici Tigurine Historiae Animalium Lib. I de Quadripedibus uiuiparis 842 (1551).

    Google Scholar 

  2. Tseng, Y.-H. et al. Nature 454, 1000–1004 (2008).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Seale, P. et al. Nature 454, 961–967 (2008).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Nedergaard, J., Bengtsson, T. & Cannon, B. Am. J. Physiol. Endocrinol. Metab. 293, E444–E452 (2007).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Seale, P. et al. Cell Metab. 6, 38–54 (2007).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Hasty, P. et al. Nature 364, 501–506 (1993).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Timmons, J. A. et al. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 104, 4401–4406 (2007).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Atit, R. et al. Dev. Biol. 296, 164–176 (2006).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Cannon, B., Nedergaard, J. Neither fat nor flesh. Nature 454, 947–948 (2008).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

Further reading


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing