Interaction of thyroid hormone with brown adipose tissue. Lessons learned from PET-CT

Nuklearmedizin. 2015;54(3):82-7.


Brown adipose tissue (BAT) plays an important role in regulating core-body temperature in various species including man. [18F]FDG-PET/CT imaging first revealed the presence of metabolically active BAT depots and that decreased BAT function is associated with various metabolic conditions. Thyroid hormone (TH) in concert with sympathetic nervous system signalling (SNS) stimulates BAT thermogenesis and thyroid disorders result in dysfunctional BAT. Currently, research is focussing not only on BAT regulation but also on browning of white adipose tissue (WAT) to BAT beige adipose tissue (BeAT) in order to develop novel treatments for human obesity and related conditions. While [18F]FDG-PET/CT imaging is continuing to provide valuable insights into BAT and BeAT function in health and disease, there is a pressing need to develop alternative radiotracers that reliably track their activity in vivo. As a result it is expected that preclinical micro PET/CT investigations of BAT and BeAT will gain in prominence. The aim of this short review is to i) describe fundamentals in BAT biology, ii) highlight some of the clinical and preclinical studies performed on humans and rodents with a focus on TH, BAT and PET/CT, and iii) bridge these data with our own studies within the DFG thyroid transact priority program.

Keywords: PET/CT imaging; Thyroid hormone; brown adipose tissue; noradrenaline.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue, Brown / diagnostic imaging
  • Adipose Tissue, Brown / metabolism*
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18 / pharmacokinetics
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Metabolic Diseases / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Molecular Imaging / methods
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods
  • Radiopharmaceuticals / pharmacokinetics
  • Thermogenesis*
  • Thyroid Hormones / metabolism*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Thyroid Hormones
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18