Metabolism and morphology of brown adipose tissue from Brahman and Angus newborn calves. Academic Article uri icon


  • The objective of this study was to compare adipocyte morphology and lipogenesis between breed types (Angus vs Brahman) in brown adipose tissue (BAT) and white adipose tissue (WAT) from newborn calves. The Brahman calves (n = 7) were born during the fall season, whereas the Angus calves were born in fall (n = 6) or the following spring (n = 4). At parturition, Brahman cows were lighter than fall Angus cows, but were heavier than spring Angus cows (P < .05). Birth weights and perirenal BAT weights were greater in spring-born, but not in fall-born Angus calves, than in Brahman calves (P < .05). Fall-born Angus BAT contained 63% more (P < .05) adipocytes/100 mg tissue and contained a greater proportion (P < .05) of adipocytes with mean diameters of 40 to 50 microm, and fewer adipocytes with diameters of 60 microm or greater, than Brahman BAT. Brahman BAT contained two-to-three times as many beta-receptors as Angus BAT (P < .05), although the dissociation constant (Kd) was not different between breed types. Mitochondria in Brahman BAT were primarily spherical, whereas Angus BAT mitochondria were elongated, and mitochondrial cross-sectional area tended (P = .08) to be greater in Brahman BAT than in Angus BAT. The mitochondrial uncoupling protein (UCP) mRNA concentration (per 10(6) cells) was greater in Brahman BAT than in BAT from fall-born Angus calves. Lipogenesis from acetate was greater in Angus BAT than in Brahman BAT (P < .05), and glucose and palmitate contributed a greater proportion of carbon to lipogenesis in Brahman BAT than in Angus BAT. These differences in lipogenesis between breed types were not observed in s.c. WAT. The WAT from both breed types contained adipocytes with distinct brown adipocyte morphology, suggesting an involution of BAT to WAT in utero. We conclude that differences in UCP gene expression cannot cause the greater peak thermogenesis of Angus calves; however, differences between breed types in lipid metabolism and(or) mitochondrial morphology may contribute to this phenomenon.

published proceedings

  • J Anim Sci

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Martin, G. S., Carstens, G. E., King, M. D., Eli, A. G., Mersmann, H. J., & Smith, S. B.

citation count

  • 13

complete list of authors

  • Martin, GS||Carstens, GE||King, MD||Eli, AG||Mersmann, HJ||Smith, SB

publication date

  • February 1999