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Effects Of Hypothyroidism On The Brown Adipose Tissue Of Adult Rats: Comparison With The Effects Of Adaptation To Cold.

G. Mory, D. Ricquier, P. Pesquiès, P. Hémon
Published 1981 · Biology, Medicine

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Hypothyroidism was induced in adult rats by oral absorption of methimazole and its effects on brown adipose tissue (BAT) were studied. Hypothyroidism partially mimicked the effects of chronic exposure to cold: BAT weight and its DNA content were increased and the mitochondrial components (proteins, phospholipids) of the tissue were greatly enhanced when expressed per unit of fresh tissue weight. Moreover, hypothyroidism had the same effects as adaptation to cold on the fatty-acid composition of both total and mitochondrial phospholipids. Basal respiratory rate and total cytochrome C oxidase activity of the tissue were also increased. However, the increase in the concentration of the '32,000 mol. wt protein', a polypeptide which regulates the dissipation of heat by BAT, was smaller and non-selective in hypothyroid rats. The amount of this protein was increased per mg tissue, but not per mg mitochondrial proteins, as in rats adapted to cold. Furthermore, in contrast with the large mobilization of the lipid stores in BAT of euthyroid animals, the BAT lipid stores of hypothyroid rats were not mobilized during the first hours of exposure to cold. It may be concluded that (a) hypothyroidism induces several alterations in BAT which are characteristic of an active thermogenic state (this may be because of the response of the organism to the deficiency of thermogenesis induced by hypothyroidism), (b) this potential increase in thermogenic capacity in the BAT of hypothyroid rats has probably a limited physiological role, since thyroid hormones are necessary for the mobilization of the tissue lipids which are the fuel for production of heat and (c) these data provide evidence for a limited role of thyroid hormones in the tropic response of BAT during adaptation to cold.
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