Norepinephrine release in brown adipose tissue remains robust in cold-exposed senescent Fischer 344 rats

Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2003 Jul;285(1):R91-8. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00494.2002. Epub 2003 Mar 13.


Near the end of life, old F344 rats undergo a transition, marked by spontaneous and rapidly declining function. Food intake and body weight decrease, and these rats, which we call senescent, develop severe hypothermia in the cold due in part to blunted brown fat [brown adipose tissue (BAT)] thermogenesis. We tested the hypothesis that this attenuation may involve diminished sympathetic signaling by measuring cold-induced BAT norepinephrine release in freely moving rats using linear microdialysis probes surgically implanted into interscapular BAT 24 and 48 h previously. In response to 2 h at 15 degrees C, senescent rats increased BAT norepinephrine release 6- to 10-fold but did not maintain homeothermy. This increase was comparable to that of old presenescent (weight stable) rats that did maintain homeothermy during even greater cold exposure (2 h at 15 degrees C followed by 1.5 h at 8 degrees C). Tail temperatures, an index of vasoconstrictor responsiveness to cold, exhibited similar cooling curves in presenescent and senescent rats. Thus cold-induced sympathetic signaling to BAT and tail vasoconstrictor responsiveness remain robust in senescent rats and cannot explain their cold-induced hypothermia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue, Brown / innervation*
  • Adipose Tissue, Brown / metabolism
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Body Temperature / physiology
  • Body Temperature Regulation / physiology
  • Cold Temperature*
  • Male
  • Norepinephrine / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Tail / blood supply
  • Vasoconstriction / physiology
  • Weight Loss / physiology


  • Norepinephrine