Brown Adipose Tissue Exhibits a Glucose-Responsive Thermogenic Biorhythm in Humans

Cell Metab. 2016 Apr 12;23(4):602-9. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2016.02.007. Epub 2016 Mar 10.


High abundance of brown adipose tissue (BAT) is linked to lower glycaemia in humans, leading to the belief that BAT may protect against diabetes. The relationship between BAT glucose utilization and systemic glucose homeostasis has not been defined. In this paper we have characterized glycaemic excursions and BAT thermogenic responses in human brown adipocytes, BAT explants, and healthy adults through supraclavicular temperature profiling, revealing their circadian coupling in vivo and in vitro, orchestrated by UCP1, GLUT4, and Rev-erbα biorhythms. Extent of glycated haemoglobin also correlated positively with environmental temperature among community-dwelling patients. These data uncover potential crosstalk between BAT and glucose regulatory pathways, evident on cellular, tissue, individual, and population levels, and provide impetus to search for BAT harnessing strategies for therapeutic purposes.

Keywords: GLUT4; Rev-erb; UCP1; beige adipose; circadian.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes, Brown / metabolism
  • Adipose Tissue, Brown / physiology*
  • Adult
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Circadian Rhythm*
  • Female
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glucose Transporter Type 4 / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nuclear Receptor Subfamily 1, Group D, Member 1 / metabolism
  • Thermogenesis*
  • Uncoupling Protein 1 / metabolism
  • Young Adult


  • Glucose Transporter Type 4
  • NR1D1 protein, human
  • Nuclear Receptor Subfamily 1, Group D, Member 1
  • SLC2A4 protein, human
  • UCP1 protein, human
  • Uncoupling Protein 1
  • Glucose