Thermogenic capacity and brown fat in rats exercise-trained by running

Steven J. Wickler, Judith S. Stern, Zvi Glick, Barbara A Horwitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Brown adipose tissue, a major effector of nonshivering thermogenesis (NST) in mammals, is activated by the sympathetic neurotransmitter norepinephrine. Prolonged increases in norepinephrine levels, whether elicited by cold exposure or exogenous application of catecholamines, lead to increased NST and increased thermogenic capacity of brown fat. Exercise training is also accompanied by enhanced sympathetic activity. The possibility exists that this enhancement may alter brown fat function. The present study was designed to assess the effect of a running exercise regimen on whole animal NST and the in vivo response of brown fat. Rats were trained by running on a treadmill (an average of 17 m/min, 0° incline, for 90 min/d) for a period of at least 6 weeks. Whole animal NST capacity was assessed by monitoring oxygen consumption in response to infusion of norepinephrine. As a measure of the contribution of brown fat to whole body NST, the mass and norepinephrine-stimulated blood flow (microsphere technique) to the tissue were measured. None of these variables differed between the exercised (n = 10) and sedentary (n = 10) groups. That is, there were no significant differences between the two groups with respect to resting oxygen consumption, norepinephrine-induced oxygen consumption, brown fat mass, and brown fat blood flow-whether expressed per gram of tissue or as total tissue blood flow (ie, tissue mass × blood flow per gram). Further study is needed to explain the differential responses of brown fat to the increased sympathetic activity occurring during exercise v that occurring during cold exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-81
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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