The genetically obese adult Zucker rat (fafa) exhibits reduced thermogenesis when stimulated by physiological agents (cold, catecholamines). Recent evidence suggests that this thermogenic defect may be important in the manifestation of the animal's obesity and that it reflects a reduced thermogenic contribution from brown adipose tissue, the major nonshivering thermogenic site in many mammals. The present study describes the effects of the obese genotype on brown (and white) adipocyte size, number, and lipid content and tissue lipoprotein lipase (LPL) activity. In the obese rats, brown fat depots were increased in mass. This increase could be accounted for by brown fat hypertrophy (due primarily to an increase in the amount of triglyceride present in each cell) rather than hyperplasia (there being no increase in the number of brown fat cells). In addition, unlike the situation in white fat, the brown fat from the obese rats did not exhibit higher LPL activity than did the brown fat from their lean littermates. This absence of an increased capacity for triglyceride uptake, coupled with the greater amount of triglyceride per brown adipocyte, is consistent with a reduction of triglyceride oxidation (and, thus, heat production) in the cells from the obese (v the lean) rats.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism