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Brown adipose tissue as a derivative of mesoderm grafted below the kidney capsule. A model for differentiation of isolated rat mesoderm.

  • Loncar, D1
  • 1 Department of Biology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093-0322.
Published Article
The International journal of developmental biology
Publication Date
June 1992
PMID: 1525014


During development, mesoderm differentiates into connective tissue, cartilage, bone, muscle and kidney. In experimental conditions the developmental spectrum of mesoderm grafted below the kidney capsule is reduced so that mostly brown adipose tissue (BAT) appears. Since BAT is a particular tissue with a specific developmental pattern, the structural and functional characteristics of experimentally developed BAT were analyzed in the present study. Mesoderm from nine-day-old rat embryos was grafted below the kidney capsule of adult rats and one month later the BAT-containing tumors were analyzed. The ultrastructural and morphometrical data of BAT-containing tumors were the same as in BAT developed in situ. Tissue-specific mRNA for uncoupling protein (UCP) was expressed in BAT-containing tumors, and immuno-electron microscopical analysis showed that mitochondria of these brown adipocytes contained UCP. Injections of noradrenaline and exposure of BAT-tumor-bearing rats to cold stress increased both the amount of UCP and the expression of UCP mRNA in tumors of BAT; i.e., experimentally developed BAT entirely resembled standard BAT. It is proposed that mesoderm isolated and displaced below the kidney capsule lacks the inductive stimuli of ectoderm and endoderm, and as a result mesoderm can not realize the natural pattern of differentiation. Here, in a new environment, mesoderm is exposed to new stimuli which induce differentiation of mesoderm into BAT, probably through neuro-vascular elements from the medial side of the kidney (BAT area). Thus, although mesoderm contains a wide differentiation capacity, it can differentiate into only one type of tissue, depending on the presence and range of inductive stimuli.

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