Capsaicin desensitization induces atrophy of brown adipose tissue in rats

Cui, J.; Zaror-Behrens, G.; Himms-Hagen, J.

American Journal of Physiology 259(2 Pt 2): R324-R332


ISSN/ISBN: 0002-9513
PMID: 2386244
Document Number: 366822
Interscapular brown adipose tissue (BAT) of capsaicin-desensitized (Cap-Des) rats is atrophied, having a lower wet weight, a reduced total protein content, and as little as 10% of the normal content of uncoupling protein (UCP). Because the mitochondrial concentration of UCP, relative to other mitochondrial proteins, is not altered in Cap-Des rats, it is concluded that most of the mitochondria of BAT of Cap-Des rats have been lost. Consistent with this interpretation is a reduction of almost 40% of the overall thermogenic response to infused norepinephrine by anesthetized Cap-Des rats. Feeding a palatable diet had a delayed thermogenic effect and no trophic effect on BAT of Cap-Des rats. Food selection and intake were normal in Cap-Des rats, and diet-induced weight gain was the same as in control rats. Exposure of Cap-Des rats to cold for 1 or 7 days exerted a normal thermogenic effect on BAT but a delayed trophic effect. The cold-induced increase in thyroxine 5'-deiodinase in BAT occurred normally. Cap-Des rats were hypothermic at 1 day but normothermic by 7 days of cold exposure. The concentration of thyroid hormones in their blood was normal. It is suggested that the depletion of sensory neuropeptides in BAT presumed to be brought about by Cap-Des results either in loss of a trophic influence on mitochondriogenesis in BAT or in lack of an inhibitory influence on mitochondrial breakdown in BAT and leads to atrophy of BAT in rats living at C and an impaired response to stimulation by diet. The more intense stimulation of cold exposure can induce growth of BAT in Cap-Des rats; it seems likely that sympathetic activation of BAT can occur normally in these animals.

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