Reduced rearing temperature augments responses in sympathetic outflow to brown adipose tissue

Shaun F. Morrison*, Sheela Ramamurthy, James B. Young

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Sympathetic outflow to brown adipose tissue (BAT) contributes to both thermoregulation and energy expenditure in rats through regulation of BAT thermogenesis. Acute cold exposure in mature animals augments BAT thermogenesis; however, the enhanced BAT thermogenic response returns to normal shortly after cessation of the cold exposure. In this study, we sought to determine whether cold exposure in early neonatal life could induce enhanced responses in the sympathetic outflow to BAT and whether this altered sympathetic regulation would be sustained after the cold stimulus was removed. BAT sympathetic nerve activity (SNA) was recorded in urethane-chloralose-anesthetized, artificially ventilated rats that were raised from birth in either 18 or 30°C environments and then, at 8 weeks of age, were maintained in 23°C for at least 4 weeks. An acute hypothermic stimulus, disinhibition of a brainstem thermogenic network in the raphe pallidus, or electrical stimulation in this rapt site produced increases in BAT SNA that were twice as great n rats reared at 18°C as in those reared at 30°C. The norepinephrine content of the interscapular BAT (IBAT) and the number of sympathetic ganglion cells projecting to interscapular BAT were 70% greater in the 18°C-reared rats. We conclude that neonatal exposure to a cold environment reduces a permanent developmental alteration in the capacity for sympathetic stimulation of BAT thermogenesis that may be mediated, in part, by a greater number of sympathetic ganglion cells innervating BAT in cold-reared animals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9264-9271
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 15 2000


  • Bicuculline
  • Brown adipose tissue
  • Cold acclimation
  • Fast blue
  • Raphe pallidus
  • Sympathetic development
  • Sympathetic ganglion
  • Thermogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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