Brown Adipose Tissue - Support for Obesity Diabetes and Longevity

 In humans, there are two types of adipose tissue. White adipose tissue and brown adipose tissue. White adipose tissue is associated with excessive fat storage, obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes. Whereas, brown adipose tissue has the opposite effect - producing energy, reducing fat storage and obesity, while increasing insulin sensitivity and reducing diabetes. Further, increasing expression of brown adipose tissue (adipocytes) may also be correlated with increases in longevity.

Newborns have the greatest amount of brown fat, which helps provide a source of heat, but gradually decreases with age. Adults have a predominance of white adipose tissue which correlate with America's obesity epidemic.


  • White Adipocytes. Store fat (triglycerides) and is linked to obesity and associated metabolic disorders such as diabetes.
  • Brown and Beige Adipocytes. Energy and thermogenic producing cells. Activation of these cells offer a possible course of treatment for obesity and diabetes.(1)


  • Health benefits. Studies altering white adipocytes, into adipocytes with brown adipose tissue characteristics show dramatic changes. Includes improvement in increased energy expenditure, improved insulin sensitivity, and protection against diet-induced obesity and diabetes. (2)
  • Longevity and UPC1. Aging studies involving animals, showed that increased expression of brown fat increases levels of UCP1 (uncoupling protein 1). UCP1 is contained in the membranes of mitochondria only in brown fat. When UCP1 is activated is provides an enormous source of heat energy.  Increased energy expenditure is recognized as a positive association with longevity.(3) Also UCP1 provides an alternative. less damaging path, for energy generation by the mitochondria. (see below). UCP1 protects the mitochondria from damaging oxidative stress and over a lifetime can have significant effect on lifespan.
  • Mitochondrial Uncoupling -Mitochondrial respiration, the process through which mitochondria produces energy,  also results in damaging end-products which promote cellular damage and death via free radicals - reactive oxygen species (ROS). The free radical theory of aging proposes that the free radicals produced by energy metabolism is linked to the aging process. Mitochondrial uncoupling describes anything which bypasses the normal electron chain which generates ATP energy and high levels of free radicals. Brown adipose tissue produces UCP1 - an important biological protein which enables mitochondrial uncoupling and reduction in damaging ROS generation.(3)



"Browning" of White Adipocytes.

Research indicates that fat storing white adipocytes may be altered to take on the characteristics of energy producing brown adipocytes. Such changes to white adipocytes may be an effective strategy for reducing obesity and obesity related disorders (such as insulin resistance and diabetes). Improving insulin sensitivity is a factor not only in diabetes, but also considered significant in longevity.

  • Sulforaphane - In vitro experiments showed an increase in UCP1 expression (the marker for brown adipose tissue activity), in addition to increasing glucose uptake. (4)
  • Curcumin - Curucmin induces browning of white adipocytes as well as inhibition of new fat cell generation. (5)
  • Andrographolide - Enhances brown adipose tissue gene activation attenuating obesity. Improves insulin sensitivity.(6)

Increase in Mitochondria in Brown Fat during New Cell Formation (Adipogenesis)

Improvement in number and function of mitochondria during brown fat adipogenesis. This may result in higher energy brown adipose tissue enabling even a stronger thermogenic response

  • Anthocyanins (C3G) - Anthocyanins, and in particular the anthocyanin C3G, has been shown to have beneficial effects towards obesity via brown adipose tissue. The effect is believed to be enhanced through increased mitochondria biogenesis during the formation of brown adipose tissue. (7)


XGEVITY   Glucoraphanin (precursor of Sulforaphane)

CURCUMIN XTRA-MAX  (includes Andrographolide)

BLUE NATURALLY   (high anthocyanins and C3G)



(1) Inagaki T, et al. Transcriptional and epigenetic control of brown and beige adipose cell fate and function. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2016 Jun 2

(2) Qian SW, et al. BMP4-mediated brown fat-like changes in white adipose tissue alter glucose and energy homeostasis. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2013 Feb

(3) Mookerjee SA, et al. Mitochondrial Uncoupling and Lifespan. Mech Ageing Dev. 2010 Jul - Aug.

(4) Zhang HQ, et al. Sulforaphane induces adipocyte browning and promotes glucose and lipid utilization. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2016 May 24

(5) Lone J, et al. Curcumin induces brown fat-like phenotype in 3T3-L1 and primary white adipocytes. J Nutr Biochem. 2016 Jan

(6) Ding L, et al. Andrographolide prevents high-fat diet-induced obesity in C57BL/6 mice by suppressing the sterol regulatory element-binding protein pathway. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2014 Nov

(7) You Y, et al. Mulberry and mulberry wine extract increase the number of mitochondria during brown adipogenesis. Food Funct. 2015 Feb

Gail Paige
Gail Paige