In this presentation, we will highlight areas of progress in pediatric brown adipose tissue (BAT) research over the past decade, including the general acceptance that this tissue is much more prevalent in children than adults and in infants than in children. Available longitudinal data in pediatric patients provide strong evidence in support of an inverse association between BAT activity and white adipose tissue (WAT) accumulation, most strikingly in the intra-abdominal depot. Emerging evidence also suggests a possible link between BAT and musculoskeletal development. Adolescents and post-pubertal teenagers that depict BAT on positron emission tomography examinations have significantly greater muscle volume than those without identifiable BAT. Moreover, the volume of BAT is positively associated with the amount of bone and the cross-sectional size of the femur in children and adolescents. This relation between BAT and bone structure could, at least in part, be mediated by muscle. Infancy is another developmental stage associated with concurrent gains in skeletal muscle and large amounts of BAT, but low levels of physical activity. Although the lack of modalities to noninvasively measure BAT has limited our understanding of its relevance to human physiology, advances in magnetic resonance imaging techniques based on the cytological differences in lipid content and the degree of vascularization between brown and white adipose tissue allow for the quantification of BAT, even in healthy infants.
Funding: This work was supported by National Institutes of Health/NIDDK (R21DK090778).
01 - 03 Oct 2015
European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology