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Clinical Application Potential of Small Molecules that Induce Brown Adipose Tissue Thermogenesis by Improving Fat Metabolism.

  • Lu, Kang-Yun1
  • Primus Dass, Kingsley Theras2
  • Tsai, Sheng-Feng3
  • Chuang, Hong-Meng4
  • Lin, Shinn-Zong1
  • Liu, Shih-Ping5
  • Harn, Horng-Jyh2
  • 1 505876Buddhist Tzu Chi Medical Foundation, Hualien, Taiwan. , (Taiwan)
  • 2 63136Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital, Hualien, Taiwan. , (Taiwan)
  • 3 34916National Chung Hsing University, Taipei, Taiwan. , (Taiwan)
  • 4 505876Buddhist Tzu Chi Bioinnovation Center, Hualien, Taiwan. , (Taiwan)
  • 5 Graduate Institute of Basic Medical Science, Taichung, Taiwan. , (Taiwan)
Published Article
Cell Transplantation
SAGE Publications
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2020
DOI: 10.1177/0963689720927394
PMID: 32854518


Mammalian fat comprises white and brown adipose tissue (WAT and BAT, respectively). WAT stores energy, whereas BAT is used for thermogenesis. In recent years, the incidence of obesity and its associated disorders have increased tremendously. Considering the thermogenic capacity and decreased levels of BAT with increasing age, BAT can be used as a suitable therapeutic target for the treatment of obesity and diabetes. In several studies, using positron emission tomography and computed tomography images, adult humans have been shown to have functional BAT in interscapular fat. Results of these basic research studies on BAT have shed light on the new components of transcriptional regulation and the role of hormones in stimulating BAT growth and differentiation. In this review article, we have summarized the thermogenic regulators identified in the past decades by focusing on peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma/uncoupling protein 1 activators, branched-chain amino acids, fatty acids (lipokine), and adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase mediators. We have also presented the progress of a few ongoing clinical trials aimed at the treatment of obesity and its associated metabolic disorders. The main purpose of this review was to provide a comprehensive introduction to the latest knowledge of the representative thermogenic regulators for the treatment of obesity. The fat combustion capacity of BAT may have great potential and can be considered as a suitable target for the therapeutic application of drugs from bench-to-bed treatment of obesity and the associated diseases.

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