Brown fat thermogenesis and cardiac rate regulation during cold challenge in infant rats

Am J Physiol. 1997 Apr;272(4 Pt 2):R1308-13. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.1997.272.4.R1308.


Infants rats depend on heat production by brown adipose tissue (BAT) during cold challenge. Although it has been suggested that BAT thermogenesis protects the heart in the cold, the relationship of BAT activation to cardiac rate has not been examined directly. In the first experiment, the cardiac rate of 2- and 7- to 8-day-old rat pups was monitored during moderate and extreme cold challenge. Pups at both ages maintained cardiac rate during moderate cold challenge while BAT thermogenesis was increasing. In contrast, cooling to air temperatures at which BAT thermogenesis could increase no further resulted in pronounced bradycardia. In the second experiment, ganglionic blockade was used to eliminate BAT heat production and autonomic control of the heart in 7- to 8-day olds. Blockade suppressed BAT thermogenesis in the cold and led to pronounced decreases in interscapular temperature and cardiac rate. These data suggest that cardiac rate in infant rats is modulated both by the autonomic nervous system and BAT thermogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acclimatization*
  • Adipose Tissue, Brown / growth & development
  • Adipose Tissue, Brown / physiology*
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Body Temperature
  • Body Temperature Regulation*
  • Cold Temperature
  • Electrocardiography
  • Ganglia, Autonomic / physiology
  • Heart Rate*
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption*
  • Rats
  • Temperature