Fat metabolism, Magnetic resonance imaging


Medical Anatomy


Brown adipose tissue undergoes a dynamic, heterogeneous response to cold exposure that can include the simultaneous synthesis, uptake, and oxidation of fatty acids. The purpose of this work was to quantify these changes in brown adipose tissue lipid content (fat-signal fraction (FSF)) using fat-water magnetic resonance imaging during individualized cooling to 3 °C above a participant’s shiver threshold. Eight healthy men completed familiarization, perception-based cooling, and MRI-cooling visits. FSF maps of the supraclavicular region were acquired in thermoneutrality and during cooling (59.5 ± 6.5 min). Brown adipose tissue regions of interest were defined, and voxels were grouped into FSF decades (0–10%, 10–20%…90–100%) according to their initial value. Brown adipose tissue contained a heterogeneous morphology of lipid content. Voxels with initial FSF values of 60–100% (P < 0.05) exhibited a significant decrease in FSF while a simultaneous increase in FSF occurred in voxels with initial FSF values of 0–30% (P < 0.05). These data suggest that in healthy young men, cold exposure elicits a dynamic and heterogeneous response in brown adipose tissue, with areas initially rich with lipid undergoing net lipid loss and areas of low initial lipid undergoing a net lipid accumulation.


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Original Citation

Coolbaugh, C. L., Damon, B. M., Bush, E. C., Welch, E. B., & Towse, T. F. (2019). Cold exposure induces dynamic, heterogeneous alterations in human brown adipose tissue lipid content. Scientific Reports, 9(1), 13600.