Demonstration of an anti-obesity effect of recruited brown adipose tissue in humans

Research Press Release | August 26, 2013

Press Release
Key Points

-Chronic cold exposure successfully increased human BAT and decreased body fat.

-Stimulation of transient receptor potential (TRP) channels by ingestion of a non-pungent capsaicin analog (capsinoids) increased BAT.

-This has potential applications as a novel method of preventing and treating obesity and related metabolic disease targeting BAT.

Overview Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is a special type of adipose tissue that burns fatty acid and converts it to heat in reaction to cold exposure. It plays important roles in controlling body temperature and energy balance. In small rodents, functional disturbance of BAT induces obesity, and its functional enhancement conversely improves obesity.

Recent studies have shown that adult humans possess significant amounts of BAT, but whether it plays a role in preventing obesity or related metabolic disease was unclear. In this study, we showed that cold exposure or repeated ingestion of capsinoid (a nonpungent capsaicin analog) which acts on TRP channels can increase the amount of brown adipose tissue, and that this decreases body fat.

This finding suggests that BAT is an effective target when considering methods of preventing and treating obesity and metabolic syndrome, which are currently a global issues.


Toshihiko Iwanaga, Professor, Graduate School of Medicine, Hokkaido University

TEL: +81-11-706-5895

FAX: +81-11-706-5033


Takeshi Yoneshiro, Research Fellow, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)

TEL: +81-11-706-7151

FAX: +81-11-706-7151

Japanese Link
Publications Journal of Clinical Investigation (2013.7.15)