Is the heat surrounding adipose tissue mitochondria warranted?

Craig Porter, Ioannis Malagaris, Labros S. Sidossis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Purpose of review: Mitochondrial uncoupling proteins uncouple oxidative phosphorylation. The physiological role ascribed to this process is thermoregulation. The metabolic consequence of mitochondrial respiration uncoupled from ATP production is increased substrate oxidation and metabolic rate. The recent discovery of uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) positive mitochondria in human adipose tissue has rekindled interest in the role of UCP1 in energy balance and metabolic health. Recent findings: Recently, there have been numerous reports of functional brown adipose tissue in humans. Further, data from cell and murine studies suggest that beige adipocytes can be induced within white adipose tissue. The presence of brown/beige adipocytes with mitochondria expressing UCP1 negatively correlates with adiposity. Further, activation of these adipocytes alters energy balance and substrate metabolism. However, in humans, brown fat content varies significantly. Further, although beige adipocytes can be induced in white adipose tissue of rodents, whether this is also true in humans remains unclear. Summary: The presence of UCP1-positive mitochondria in human adipose tissue represents an exciting therapeutic target for treating obesity and its metabolic complications. Understanding the mechanisms governing brown fat activation will be crucial if the therapeutic potential of UCP1 is to be realized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)503-508
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


  • Adipose tissue
  • Brown fat
  • Mitochondria
  • Uncoupling protein 1


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