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Impaired Cold Stimulated Supraclavicular Brown Adipose Tissue Activity in Young Boys with Obesity

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posted on 16.03.2022, 15:21 by Basma A. Ahmed, Nina Varah, Frank J. Ong, Denis P. Blondin, Elizabeth Gunn, Norman B. Konyer, Nina P. Singh, Michael D. Noseworthy, Francois Haman, Andre C. Carpentier, Zubin Punthakee, Gregory R. Steinberg, Katherine M. Morrison
Childhood obesity is a growing worldwide problem. In adults, lower cold-induced brown adipose tissue (BAT) activity is linked to obesity and metabolic dysfunction; this relationship remains uncertain in children. In this cross-sectional study, we compared cold-induced supraclavicular (SCV) BAT activity (percent change in proton density fat fraction (PDFF)) within the SCV region after one hour of whole-body cold exposure (18°C), using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in 26 boys aged 8-10 years: 13 with normal body mass index (BMI), and 13 with overweight/obesity. Anthropometry, body composition, hepatic, and visceral fat (VAT), and pre-and post-cold PDFF of the subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) in the posterior neck region and the abdomen were measured.

Boys with overweight/obesity had lower cold-induced percent decline in SCV PDFF compared to those with normal BMI (1.6±0.8 vs 4.7±1.2 %, p=0.044). SCV PDFF declined significantly in boys with normal BMI (2.7±0.7 %, p=0.003) but not in boys with overweight/obesity (1.1±0.5 %, p=0.053). No cold-induced changes in the PDFF of either the neck SAT (-0.89±0.7 %, p= 0.250 vs 0.37±0.3 %, p= 0.230) or the abdominal SAT (-0.39±0.5 %, p=0.409 and 0.25±0.2 %, p= 0.139 for normal BMI and overweight/obesity groups respectively) were seen. The cold-induced percent decline in SCV PDFF was inversely related to BMI (r=-0.39, p= 0.047), waist circumference (r= -0.48, p= 0.014), and VAT (r= -0.47, p= 0.014). Thus, in young boys, as in adults, BAT activity is lower in those with overweight/obesity, suggesting that restoring activity may be important for improving metabolic health.


This study is funded by grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (grant number 144625-1) and the Boris Family.