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. 2016 Nov;40(11):1655-1661.
doi: 10.1038/ijo.2016.124. Epub 2016 Jul 19.

Brown Adipose Tissue Is Involved in Diet-Induced Thermogenesis and Whole-Body Fat Utilization in Healthy Humans

Free PMC article

Brown Adipose Tissue Is Involved in Diet-Induced Thermogenesis and Whole-Body Fat Utilization in Healthy Humans

M Hibi et al. Int J Obes (Lond). .
Free PMC article


Background/objectives: Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is a potential therapeutic target against obesity and diabetes through thermogenesis and substrate disposal with cold exposure. The role of BAT in energy metabolism under thermoneutral conditions, however, remains controversial. We assessed the contribution of BAT to energy expenditure (EE), particularly diet-induced thermogenesis (DIT), and substrate utilization in human adults.

Methods: In this cross-sectional study, BAT activity was evaluated in 21 men using 18F-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose positron emission tomography combined with computed tomography (18F-FDG-PET/CT) after cold exposure (19 °C). The subjects were divided into BAT-positive (n=13) and BAT-negative (n=8) groups according to the 18F-FDG-PET/CT findings. Twenty-four hour EE, DIT and respiratory quotient were measured using a whole-room indirect calorimeter at 27 °C.

Results: Body composition, blood metabolites and 24-h EE did not differ between groups. DIT (%), calculated as DIT divided by total energy intake, however, was significantly higher in the BAT-positive group (BAT-positive: 9.7±2.5%, BAT-negative: 6.5±4.0%, P=0.03). The 24-h respiratory quotient was significantly lower (P=0.03) in the BAT-positive group (0.861±0.027) than in the BAT-negative group (0.889±0.024).

Conclusion: DIT and fat utilization were higher in BAT-positive subjects compared to BAT-negative subjects, suggesting that BAT has a physiologic role in energy metabolism.

Conflict of interest statement

Masanobu Hibi, Sachiko Oishi, Tohru Yamaguchi, Koichi Yasunaga and Yoshihisa Katsuragi are employees of the Kao Corporation. The other authors have no personal or financial conflicts of interest.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Mean DIT (%) response to an energy balanced diet for 15 h in BAT-negative (n=8) and BAT-positive (n=13) subjects based on whole-room indirect calorimetry at 27 °C. * significant difference between groups, P<0.05. BAT, brown adipose tissue; DIT, diet-induced thermogenesis.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Changes in (a) energy expenditure (EE) per fat free mass (FFM) and (b) RQ during 30-min intervals in a whole-room indirect calorimeter for 24 h. Data are expressed as value per hour±s.e. Black circles with black lines represent the BAT-positive group (n=13) and the white squares with black lines represent the BAT-negative group (n=8). Grey triangles represent the meal times (0900, 1400 and 1900 hours). (A) ANOVA showed that EE/FFM over 24 h varied with group and time as demonstrated by the lack of a significant effect of group (P=0.339), but a significant effect of time (P<0.001) and a group × time interaction (P=0.010). (b) ANOVA showed that RQ over 24 h varied with group and time as demonstrated by the significant effect of group (P=0.029) and the significant effect of time (P<0.001), but no significant group × time interaction (P=0.010). * significantly different from BAT-negative group (P<0.05, without corrections for multiple comparisons).
Figure 3
Figure 3
Linear correlation between SUVmax and 24-h RQ in a whole-room indirect calorimetry (Pearson's correlation; r=−0.47, P=0.035).

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