Using MRI to measure brown adipose tissue in humans

By  Dr Y. Iris Chen and Dr Kenneth K. Kwong

The growing epidemic of obesity and its dramatic effects on health has stimulated much research into several aspects of lipid metabolism. One particularly active research area is that of Brown Adipose Tissue (BAT), one of whose properties is the generation of heat through lipid metabolism.  One hypothesis is that obesity is linked to a malfunction of BAT. Research in this area has been hampered up until now by the difficulty of imaging BAT and distinguishing BAT from white adipose tissue. This article reviews the field and describes how recent MRI protocols can contribute to a better understanding of in vivo BAT physiology.


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