The effects of rimonabant on brown adipose tissue in rat: implications for energy expenditure

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2009 Feb;17(2):254-61. doi: 10.1038/oby.2008.509. Epub 2008 Dec 4.


The cannabinoid CB1 receptor antagonist rimonabant (SR 141716) produces a sustained decrease in body weight on a background of a transient reduction in food intake. An increase in energy expenditure has been implicated, possibly mediated via peripheral endocannabinoid system; however, the role of the central endocannabinoid system is unclear. The present study investigates this role. Rimonabant (10 mg/kg IP) was administered for 21 days to rats surgically implanted with biotelemetry devices to measure temperature in the interscapular brown adipose tissue (BAT). BAT temperature as a putative measure of thermogenesis in the BAT, physical activity, body weight, food intake, as well as changes in UCP1 messenger RNA (mRNA) and protein were measured. In addition, role of the CNS in mediating these actions of rimonabant was determined in rats where the BAT was sympathetically denervated. As expected, chronic administration of rimonabant significantly reduced body weight for the entire treatment period despite only a transient decrease in food intake. There was a profound increase in BAT temperature, particularly during the dark phase of each circadian cycle throughout the treatment period. A corresponding increase in uncoupling protein (UCP1) was also observed following chronic rimonabant treatment. The rimonabant-induced elevation in BAT temperature and decrease in body weight were significantly attenuated following denervation, indicating an involvement of the CNS. These findings suggest that the long-term weight loss associated with rimonabant treatment is due at least in part to an elevation in energy expenditure, represented here by elevated temperature recorded in the BAT, which is mediated primarily by the central endocannabinoid system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue, Brown / drug effects*
  • Adipose Tissue, Brown / innervation
  • Adipose Tissue, Brown / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Cannabinoids / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Central Nervous System / drug effects
  • Central Nervous System / physiology
  • Eating / drug effects
  • Eating / physiology
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Ion Channels / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / metabolism
  • Models, Animal
  • Piperidines / pharmacology*
  • Pyrazoles / pharmacology*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Rimonabant
  • Thermogenesis / drug effects
  • Thermogenesis / physiology
  • Uncoupling Protein 1


  • Cannabinoids
  • Ion Channels
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Piperidines
  • Pyrazoles
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Ucp1 protein, rat
  • Uncoupling Protein 1
  • Rimonabant