Brown adipose tissue (BAT) has attracted scientific interest as an anti-diabetic tissue owning to its ability to dissipate energy as heat. Despite a plethora of data concerning the role of BAT in glucose metabolism in rodents, the role of BAT (if any) in glucose metabolism in humans remains unssclear. To investigate whether BAT activation alters whole-body glucose homeostasis and insulin sensitivity in humans, we studied 7 BAT positive (BAT+) men and 5 BAT negative (BAT-) men under thermoneutral conditions and after prolonged (5-8 h) cold exposure (CE). The two groups were similar in age, body mass index, and adiposity. CE significantly increased resting energy expenditure, whole-body glucose disposal, plasma glucose oxidation, and insulin sensitivity in the BAT+ group only. These results demonstrate a physiologically significant role of BAT in whole-body energy expenditure, glucose homeostasis, and insulin sensitivity in humans and support the notion that BAT may function as an anti-diabetic tissue in humans.
- Received May 10, 2014.
- Accepted July 10, 2014.
- © 2014 by the American Diabetes Association.
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