Common and distinct regulation of human and mouse brown and beige adipose tissues: a promising therapeutic target for obesity

Xuejiao Liu, Christopher Cervantes, Feng Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Obesity, which underlies various metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, is a growing public health challenge for which established therapies are inadequate. Given the current obesity epidemic, there is a pressing need for more novel therapeutic strategies that will help adult individuals to manage their weight. One promising therapeutic intervention for reducing obesity is to enhance energy expenditure. Investigations into human brown fat and the recently discovered beige/brite fat have galvanized intense research efforts during the past decade because of their pivotal roles in energy dissipation. In this review, we summarize the evolution of human brown adipose tissue (hBAT) research and discuss new in vivo methodologies for evaluating energy expenditure in patients. We highlight the differences between human and mouse BAT by integrating and comparing their cellular morphology, function, and gene expression profiles. Although great advances in hBAT biology have been achieved in the past decade, more cellular models are needed to acquire a better understanding of adipose-specific processes and molecular mechanisms. Thus, this review also describes the development of a human brown fat cell line, which could provide promising mechanistic insights into hBAT function, signal transduction, and development. Finally, we focus on the therapeutic potential and current limitations of hBAT as an anti-glycemic, anti-lipidemic, and weight loss-inducing ‘metabolic panacea’.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)446-454
Number of pages9
JournalProtein and Cell
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017


  • energy metabolism
  • human brown adipose tissue
  • obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Drug Discovery
  • Cell Biology


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