University of Oulu

Ocobock, C., Soppela, P., Turunen, M. et al. Brown adipose tissue thermogenesis among a small sample of reindeer herders from sub-Arctic Finland. J Physiol Anthropol 41, 17 (2022).

Brown adipose tissue thermogenesis among a small sample of reindeer herders from sub-Arctic Finland

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Author: Ocobock, Cara1,2; Soppela, Päivi3; Turunen, Minna3;
Organizations: 1Department of Anthropology, University of Notre Dame, Corbett Family Hall 296, Notre Dame, IN, 46556, USA
2Eck Institute for Global Health, Institute for Educational Initiatives, University of Notre Dame, Corbett Family Hall 296, Notre Dame, IN, 46556, USA
3University of Lapland, Arctic Centre, Rovaniemi, Finland
4Research Unit of Biomedicine, Medical Research Center, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, and Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland
5Biocenter Oulu, Oulu, Finland
6Department of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Metabolism, Poznan University of Medical Sciences, Poznan, Poland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-09-28


Introduction: Interest in human physiological responses to cold stress have seen a resurgence in recent years with a focus on brown adipose tissue (BAT), a mitochondria dense fat specialized for heat production. However, a majority of the work examining BAT has been conducted among temperate climate populations.

Methods: To expand our understanding of BAT thermogenesis in a cold climate population, we measured, using indirect calorimetry and thermal imaging, metabolic rate and body surface temperatures of BAT-positive and BAT-negative regions at room temperature, and mild cold exposure of resting participants from a small sample of reindeer herders (N = 22, 6 females) from sub-Arctic Finland.

Results: We found that most herders experienced a significant mean 8.7% increase in metabolic rates, preferentially metabolized fatty acids, and maintained relatively warmer body surface temperatures at the supraclavicular region (known BAT location) compared to the sternum, which has no associated BAT. These results indicate that the herders in this sample exhibit active BAT thermogenesis in response to mild cold exposure.

Conclusions: This study adds to the rapidly growing body of work looking at the physiological and thermoregulatory significance of BAT and the important role it may play among cold stressed populations.

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Series: Journal of physiological anthropology
ISSN: 1880-6791
ISSN-E: 1880-6805
ISSN-L: 1880-6791
Volume: 41
Issue: 1
Article number: 17
DOI: 10.1186/s40101-022-00290-4
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1182 Biochemistry, cell and molecular biology
Funding: Funding for this project was provided by the National Science Foundation High Risk Research in Biological Anthropology and Archaeology grant (1724819) and the American Scandinavian Foundation.
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