Grasas y Aceites, Vol 60, No 5 (2009)

The adipose tissue: something more than a reservoir of energy

Alfonso Valenzuela B
Centro de Lípidos, INTA, Universidad de Chile, Chile

Julio Sanhueza C
Centro de Lípidos, INTA, Universidad de Chile, Chile


Adipose tissue is a reservoir of energy and also an organ that contributes to the aesthetics and health of human body working as an endocrine tissue. White adipose tissue, which is formed by unilocular adipose cells, can modify organic homeostasis by controlling energy expenditure and consumption and by producing adipokines that regulate food consumption, and carbohydrate and lipid metabolic utilization. Brown adipose tissue is structured by multilocular cells containing many small fat drops that can be easily hydrolyzed. This tissue is involved in adaptative or facultative thermogenesis because it contains the uncoupling-1 protein (UCP-1) which by inhibiting ATP synthesis releases heat. The size of brow adipose tissue is reduced with aging and the most recent future strategies to fight obesity may be by transforming white cells into brown adipose tissue. The present work reviews the main structural and functional characteristics of white and brown adipose tissue with emphasis in its endocrine and regulatory function.


Adipokines; Brown adipose tissue; Temperature regulation; White adipose tissue

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