Anatomy of the adipose organ

Eat Weight Disord. 2000 Sep;5(3):132-42. doi: 10.1007/BF03354443.


In rats and mice the adipose organ consists of several subcutaneous and visceral depots. Some areas of these depots are brown and correspond to brown adipose tissue, while most are white and correspond to white adipose tissue. The number of brown adipocytes found in white areas varies with age, strain and environmental conditions. Brown and white adipocyte precursors are morphologically dissimilar. Together with a rich vascular supply, brown areas receive abundant noradrenergic parenchymal innervation. The gross anatomy and histology of the organ vary considerably in different physiological (cold acclimation, warm acclimation, fasting, lactation) and pathological (obesity) conditions, and many important genes, such as leptin and uncoupling protein 1, are also expressed differently in the two cell types. These basic mechanisms should be taken into account when addressing the physiopathology of obesity and its treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acclimatization
  • Adipocytes / metabolism
  • Adipose Tissue / anatomy & histology*
  • Adipose Tissue / cytology
  • Adipose Tissue / physiology
  • Animals
  • Leptin / genetics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Rats


  • Leptin