Several lines of evidence suggest that novel pharmacological approaches aimed at converting white adipose tissue (WAT) into brown adipose tissue (BAT) may represent an effective therapeutic strategy for obesity and related disorders. ((18))F-fluorodeoxyglucose ((18)F-FDG) is the only positron emission tomography (PET) tracer commonly used to study BAT function, and so far no functional tools have been described to investigate in vivo white-to-brown fat conversion. In this report, we show that the PET tracer (11)C-meta-hydroxyephedrine ((11)C-MHED, a norepinephrine analogue) is a useful tool to investigate the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activity in BAT of lean and dietary obese mice. Moreover, we demonstrate that (11)C-MHED is a specific marker of the SNS-mediated thermogenesis in typical BAT depots, and that this tracer can detect in vivo WAT to BAT conversion.
Keywords: Brown adipose tissue; PET/CT imaging; Sympathetic activity.