Homeostatic regulation of adipose tissue is critical for the maintenance of energy balance and whole-body metabolism. The peripheral nervous system provides bidirectional neural communication between the brain and adipose tissue, thereby providing homeostatic control. Most research on adipose innervation and nerve functions has been limited to the sympathetic nerves and their neurotransmitter norepinephrine. In recent years, more work has focused on adipose sensory nerves, but the contributions of subsets of sensory nerves to metabolism and the specific roles contributed by sensory neuropeptides are still understudied. Advances in imaging of adipose innervation and newer tissue denervation techniques have confirmed that sensory nerves contribute to the regulation of adipose functions, including lipolysis and browning. Here, we summarize the historical and latest findings on the regulation, function and plasticity of adipose tissue sensory nerves that contribute to metabolically important processes such as lipolysis, vascular control and sympathetic axis cross-talk.
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K.L.T. was supported by start-up funding from The Ohio State University College of Medicine, as well as NIH grant R01DH114320, a NIDDK Diabetic Complications Consortium (DIACOMP) award EEIR:SCR_001415 and a W.M. Keck Foundation award. We thank J. W. Willows for critical reading of the manuscript.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Mishra, G., Townsend, K.L. The metabolic and functional roles of sensory nerves in adipose tissues. Nat Metab 5, 1461–1474 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s42255-023-00868-x