Brown Fat

What is Brown Fat?

Brown fat, also called brown adipose tissue, is a special type of body fat that is turned on (activated) when we get cold. Brown fat produces heat to help maintain body temperature in cold conditions.

Brown fat is responsible for keeping the babies warm in a cold environment. Earlier, it was thought that when humans grow older they lose brown fat. However, our research group in 2009 showed concretely for the first time that adult humans also possess brown fat.

Brown fat contains many more mitochondria than white fat. These mitochondria are the “engines” in brown fat that burn calories to produce heat.

Brown fat is interesting because it can burn circulatory glucose and lipids as fuel and release the generated energy as heat. People with obesity have less amount of brown fat – and loss of brown fat function is one of the reasons for people developing obesity. Thereby, activating brown fat has therapeutic potential in whole-body weight management and managing whole-body insulin sensitivity.