Analysis of uncoupling protein and its mRNA in adipose tissue deposits of adult humans

Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1992 May;16(5):383-90.


Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is a specialized adipose tissue whose specific marker is the uncoupling protein (UCP). UCP and its mRNA were previously detected in the perirenal fat of several adult subjects undergoing surgery for pheochromocytoma. We have investigated the possible association of the presence of UCP and its mRNA with pathological conditions other than pheochromocytoma. We obtained adipose tissue from both the periadrenal and the perirenal regions of 36 subjects: group A: human infants (n = 6); group B: adult subjects (n = 11) undergoing surgery for pheochromocytoma; group C: adult subjects (n = 9) undergoing surgery for other endocrine pathologies; group D: adult patients (n = 10) operated for non-endocrine pathologies. In all subjects of group A UCP was detectable by Western analysis. Interestingly, in two newborns, we also found a positive signal for UCP in the peristernal and the retroperitoneal adipose tissues as well as in the perirenal fat. We also identified UCP in eight cases in group B, in five cases in group C and six cases in group D. The human H-UCP-0.5 genomic probe detected a typical BAT mRNA in the periadrenal adipose tissue of all subjects of groups B, C and D showing a positive Western blot. Our results confirm the presence of well-developed BAT in human infants, as well as in adults with pheochromocytoma. They also suggest that human BAT UCP and UCP mRNA are present in adult subjects in pathological conditions other than pheochromocytoma. It might be argued that certain hormones distinct from catecholamine could activate BAT development in human adults.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue, Brown / chemistry*
  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms / surgery
  • Adrenal Glands
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carrier Proteins / analysis*
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Endocrine System Diseases / metabolism
  • Endocrine System Diseases / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Ion Channels
  • Kidney
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins / analysis*
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Middle Aged
  • Mitochondria / chemistry*
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Pheochromocytoma / metabolism
  • Pheochromocytoma / surgery
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis*
  • Retroperitoneal Space
  • Sternum
  • Uncoupling Agents / analysis*
  • Uncoupling Protein 1


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Ion Channels
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Uncoupling Agents
  • Uncoupling Protein 1