Thermogenesis, the production of heat energy, in brown adipose tissue is a significant component of the homeostatic repertoire to maintain body temperature during the challenge of low environmental temperature in many species from mouse to man and plays a key role in elevating body temperature during the febrile response to infection. The sympathetic neural outflow determining brown adipose tissue (BAT) thermogenesis is regulated by neural networks in the CNS which increase BAT sympathetic nerve activity in response to cutaneous and deep body thermoreceptor signals. Many behavioral states, including wakefulness, immunologic responses, and stress, are characterized by elevations in core body temperature to which central command-driven BAT activation makes a significant contribution. Since energy consumption during BAT thermogenesis involves oxidation of lipid and glucose fuel molecules, the CNS network driving cold-defensive and behavioral state-related BAT activation is strongly influenced by signals reflecting the shortand long-term availability of the fuel molecules essential for BAT metabolism and, in turn, the regulation of BAT thermogenesis in response to metabolic signals can contribute to energy balance, regulation of body adipose stores and glucose utilization. This review summarizes our understanding of the functional organization and neurochemical influences within the CNS networks that modulate the level of BAT sympathetic nerve activity to produce the thermoregulatory and metabolic alterations in BAT thermogenesis and BAT energy expenditure that contribute to overall energy homeostasis and the autonomic support of behavior.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physiology (medical)