Brown Adipose Tissue (BAT) has a major role in thermoregulation, producing heat by non-shivering thermogenesis. Primarily found in animals and human infants, the presence of significant brown adipose tissue was identified only recently, and its metabolic role in adults was reconsidered. BAT is believed to have an important role in many metabolic diseases, such as obesity and diabetes, and also to be associated with cancer cachexia. Therefore, it is currently a topic of great interest in the research community, and many groups are investigating the mechanisms underlying BAT metabolism in normal and pathological conditions. However, well established non-invasive methods for assessing BAT distribution and function are still lacking. The purpose of this review is to summarize the current state of the art of these methods, with a particular focus on PET, CT and MRI.
Keywords: Brown adipose tissue; Imaging; Magnetic resonance; Positron emission tomography; Thermogenesis.