Brown adipose tissue (BAT; brown fat) is the principal site of adaptive thermogenesis in the human newborn and other small mammals. Of paramount importance for thermogenesis is vascular perfusion, which controls the flow of cool blood in, and warmed blood out, of BAT. We have developed an optical method for the quantitative imaging of BAT perfusion in the living, intact animal using the heptamethine indocyanine IR-786 and near-infrared (NIR) fluorescent light. We present a detailed analysis of the physical, chemical, and cellular properties of IR-786, its biodistribution and pharmacokinetics, and its uptake into BAT. Using transgenic animals with homozygous deletion of Type II iodothyronine deiodinase, or homozygous deletion of uncoupling proteins (UCPs) 1 and 2, we demonstrate that BAT perfusion can be measured non-invasively, accurately, and reproducibly. Using these techniques, we show that UCP -1/-2 knockout animals, when compared to wild-type animals, have a higher baseline perfusion of BAT but a similar maximal response to β3-receptor agonist. These results suggest that compensation for UCP deletion is mediated, in part, by the control of BAT perfusion. Taken together, BAT perfusion can now be measured non-invasively using NIR fluorescent light, and pharmacological modulators of thermogenesis can be screened at relatively high throughput in living animals.
- Adaptive thermogenesis
- Brown adipose tissue
- Brown fat
- Near-infrared fluorescence imaging
ASJC Scopus subject areas