Review Article | Published:

Brown and beige fat: development, function and therapeutic potential

Nature Medicine volume 19, pages 12521263 (2013) | Download Citation

Abstract

Adipose tissue, best known for its role in fat storage, can also suppress weight gain and metabolic disease through the action of specialized, heat-producing adipocytes. Brown adipocytes are located in dedicated depots and express constitutively high levels of thermogenic genes, whereas inducible 'brown-like' adipocytes, also known as beige cells, develop in white fat in response to various activators. The activities of brown and beige fat cells reduce metabolic disease, including obesity, in mice and correlate with leanness in humans. Many genes and pathways that regulate brown and beige adipocyte biology have now been identified, providing a variety of promising therapeutic targets for metabolic disease.

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Acknowledgements

Because of space limitations, we respectfully note that we were unable to comprehensively cite many worthy contributions to the field. We would like to thank members of the Seale lab for helpful comments and discussion. This work is supported by National Institute of General Medicine Sciences, US National Institutes of Health award DP2OD007288 and a Searle Scholars Award to P.S.

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  1. Institute for Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

    • Matthew Harms
    •  & Patrick Seale

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Correspondence to Patrick Seale.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nm.3361

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