Brown Adipose Crosstalk in Tissue Plasticity and Human Metabolism.

Endocrine reviews. 2020;41(1)

Other resources

Plain language summary

Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is an important contributor to the regulation of metabolism via cellular communication with organs such as liver, muscle, gut and central nervous system. BAT is important for heat generation and is at high levels in human infants. Levels of activation of BAT decline as we age and it has been shown that the amount of BAT is smaller and its activity reduced in those with obesity and type 2 diabetes. To date, there is no answer to efficiently restore functional BAT in aging and obese subjects. This review looks at experiments done on the factors secreted from active BAT (batokines). The review aims to provide a structure for the processes and cell types involved in BAT and the recent findings of BAT whole-body communication are discussed. Altogether, these findings demonstrate that BAT has an adaptive capacity. Studying batokines, offers an alternative approach to identify novel drug targets for metabolic regulation.


Infants rely on brown adipose tissue (BAT) as a primary source of thermogenesis. In some adult humans, residuals of brown adipose tissue are adjacent to the central nervous system and acute activation increases metabolic rate. Brown adipose tissue (BAT) recruitment occurs during cold acclimation and includes secretion of factors, known as batokines, which target several different cell types within BAT, and promote adipogenesis, angiogenesis, immune cell interactions, and neurite outgrowth. All these processes seem to act in concert to promote an adapted BAT. Recent studies have also provided exciting data on whole body metabolic regulation with a broad spectrum of mechanisms involving BAT crosstalk with liver, skeletal muscle, and gut as well as the central nervous system. These widespread interactions might reflect the property of BAT of switching between an active thermogenic state where energy is highly consumed and drained from the circulation, and the passive thermoneutral state, where energy consumption is turned off. (Endocrine Reviews 41: XXX - XXX, 2020).

Lifestyle medicine

Fundamental Clinical Imbalances : Hormonal ; Neurological
Patient Centred Factors : Mediators/Obesity
Environmental Inputs : Diet ; Nutrients
Personal Lifestyle Factors : Not applicable
Functional Laboratory Testing : Imaging
Bioactive Substances : Batokines

Methodological quality

Jadad score : Not applicable
Allocation concealment : Not applicable