Molecular and histological evidence of brown adipose tissue in adult cats

M. H. Clark, D. C. Ferguson, D. Bunick, M. Hoenig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Brown adipose tissue (BAT) can influence glucose, lipid, and energy metabolism in rodents. Active BAT is now known to be present in adult humans, and interventions targeting BAT are being investigated for the treatment of human obesity and disorders of glucose and lipid metabolism. Domestic cats, like humans, are at increasing risk for obesity and diabetes but little is known about the presence and role of BAT in adult cats. The purpose of this study was to determine if brown adipocytes, identifiable by histological features and molecular markers, were present in the fat depots of adult cats. Adipose tissue samples from intrascapular, perirenal, and subcutaneous depots of eleven 8-12. year old cats (6 lean, 5 obese), were analyzed by real-time PCR for brown adipocyte markers uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) and Type II iodothyronine 5'deiodinase (D2), by histological examination and by immunohistochemistry for UCP1.UCP1 mRNA was detectable in interscapular and subcutaneous depots in all cats, and in the perirenal depot in 10/11 cats. D2 mRNA was detectable in all depots from all cats. Multilocular adipocytes were identified in the interscapular depots of 4/11 cats and these were positive for UCP1 immunoreactivity. The results demonstrate that UCP1-expressing brown adipocytes are present in multiple depots of adult lean and long-term obese cats, even at 8-12. years of age. It is possible that dietary components or pharmacological agents that influence brown fat activity could exert a relevant biological effect in cats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)66-72
Number of pages7
JournalVeterinary Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013


  • Brown adipose tissue
  • Deiodinase 2
  • Feline
  • PCR
  • UCP1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • veterinary(all)


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