Brown adipose tissue (BAT) was previously regarded as a special type of fat relevant only for defending hibernating animals and newborns against a cold environment. Recently, BAT has received considerable attention following its (re)discovery in humans. Using glucose tracers, multiple laboratories independently found metabolically active BAT in adults. The enormous metabolic powers of BAT in animal models could make it an attractive target for antiobesity therapies in humans. Here, we review the present knowledge on the role of BAT in energy homeostasis and metabolism, focusing on signaling pathways and potential targets for novel therapeutics. We also shine light on ongoing debates, including those about the true color of brown fat in adults, as well as on the requirements for translation of basic research on BAT into clinical medicine.


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