Increased proton conductance pathway in brown adipose tissue mitochondria of rats exhibiting diet-induced thermogenesis

Nature. 1980 Jul 17;286(5770):274-6. doi: 10.1038/286274a0.


It has recently been demonstrated that in rats induced to overeat by being fed a varied and palatable diet (the 'cafeteria diet') there is a marked increase in heat production which serves to reduce, or prevent, the development of obesity. This diet-induced thermogenesis is associated with increases in sympathetic activity, and with changes in brown adipose tissue. Following cafeteria feeding, brown adipose tissue hypertrophies and and exhibits increased lipolysis and an apparently greater thermogenesis in response to noradrenaline. These metabolic changes resemble those seen during non-shivering thermogenesis in cold-adapted rats, and it was proposed that non-shivering thermogenesis and diet-induced thermogenesis have a similar metabolic origin which depends on the unique capacity of brown adipose tissue for thermogenesis. During non-shivering thermogenesis heat is produced in brown adipose tissue through a proton conductance pathway across the inner mitochondrial membrane that dissipates the proton gradient generated by respiration. The activity of the proton conductance pathway can be modulated by purine nucleotides, and changes in the pathway seem to be related to the level of purine nucleotide binding to brown adipose tissue mitochondria. We now report results which indicate that the proton conductance pathway is augmented in cafeteria-fed rats, and suggest that it operates to dissipate their excess energy intake through diet-induced thermogenesis

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / physiology*
  • Adipose Tissue, Brown / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Body Temperature Regulation*
  • Diet
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mitochondria / enzymology
  • Mitochondria / physiology*
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Protons*
  • Purine Nucleotides / metabolism
  • Rats


  • Protons
  • Purine Nucleotides