Lipid Regulators of Thermogenic Fat Activation

Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2019 Oct;30(10):710-723. doi: 10.1016/j.tem.2019.07.020. Epub 2019 Aug 16.


The global prevalence of obesity continues to increase, suggesting a need for alternative treatment approaches. Targeting brown fat function to promote energy expenditure represents one such approach. Brown adipocytes and the related beige adipocytes oxidize fatty acids and glucose to generate heat and are activated by cold exposure or consumption of high-calorie diets. Alternative, more practical means to activate thermogenic fat are needed. Here, we review emerging data suggesting new roles for lipids in activating thermogenesis that extend beyond their serving as a fuel source for heat generation. Lipids have also been implicated in mediating interorgan communication, crosstalk between organelles, and cellular signaling regulating thermogenesis. Understanding how lipids regulate thermogenesis could identify innovative therapeutic interventions for obesity.

Keywords: beige fat; brown adipose tissue; mitochondria; obesity; plasmalogen; thermogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue, Beige / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Plasmalogens / metabolism
  • Thermogenesis / physiology*


  • Plasmalogens