Sensory and sympathetic nervous system control of white adipose tissue lipolysis

Timothy J. Bartness, Y. B. Shrestha, C. H. Vaughan, G. J. Schwartz, C. K. Song

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

202 Scopus citations


Circulating factors are typically invoked to explain bidirectional communication between the CNS and white adipose tissue (WAT). Thus, initiation of lipolysis has been relegated primarily to adrenal medullary secreted catecholamines and the inhibition of lipolysis primarily to pancreatic insulin, whereas signals of body fat levels to the brain have been ascribed to adipokines such as leptin. By contrast, evidence is given for bidirectional communication between brain and WAT occurring via the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and sensory innervation of this tissue. Using retrograde transneuronal viral tract tracers, the SNS outflow from brain to WAT has been defined. Functionally, sympathetic denervation of WAT blocks lipolysis to a variety of lipolytic stimuli. Using anterograde transneuronal viral tract tracers, the sensory input from WAT to brain has been defined. Functionally, these WAT sensory nerves respond electrophysiologically to increases in WAT SNS drive suggesting a possible neural negative feedback loop to regulate lipolysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34-43
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular and Cellular Endocrinology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Apr 29 2010


  • Calcitonin gene-related peptide
  • Denervation
  • Norepinephrine
  • Obesity
  • Siberian hamster

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology


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