Functional and anatomical characteristics of the nerve-brown adipose interaction in the rat

Kathryn E. Flaim, John M. Horowitz, Barbara A Horwitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Two aspects of the coupling of neural information to brown fat thermogenesis were examined-namely, the thermal responses to increasing neural stimulation and the anatomical nature of the brown fat innervation. Upon stimulation of the nerves to the interscapular brown fat pad, there ensued a biphasic response. This response was manifested by an initial, but transient temperature decrease, followed by a rise in brown fat temperature. The magnitude of both components of this response increased with increasing stimulus strength, thereby demonstrating the ability of the tissue to respond in a graded manner-a feature which may underlie the controlled thermogenic response of brown fat observed in the cold-exposed intact animal. No anatomically unique fiber types appeared to be specifically associated with innervation to the brown adipocytes or to the vessels within the fat pad. On the other hand, the nerves entering the interscapular fat pad were morphologically dissimilar, a finding consonent with their functional dissimilarity (i.e., innervation of adipocytes, innervation of blood vessels in the fat pad, and innervation of areas in the overlying skin).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-14
Number of pages6
JournalPflügers Archiv European Journal of Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1976


  • Adipose innervation
  • Brown adipose tissue
  • Nonshivering heat production
  • Rat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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