Thermal Imaging to Assess Age-Related Changes of Skin Temperature within the Supraclavicular Region Co-Locating with Brown Adipose Tissue in Healthy Children

The Early Life Nutrition Research Unit, Academic Division of Child Health, School of Clinical Sciences, University Hospital, Nottingham, United Kingdom
The Journal of pediatrics (Impact Factor: 3.79). 06/2012; 161(5):892-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2012.04.056
Source: PubMed


To establish the feasibility of infrared thermal imaging as a reproducible, noninvasive method for assessing changes in skin temperature within the supraclavicular region in vivo.
Thermal imaging was used to assess the effect of a standard cool challenge (by placement of the participant's feet or hand in water at 20°C) on the temperature of the supraclavicular region in healthy volunteer participants of normal body mass index in 3 age groups, 3-8, 13-18, and 35-58 years of age.
We demonstrated a highly localized increase in temperature within the supraclavicular region together with a significant age-related decline under both baseline and stimulated conditions.
Thermogenesis within the supraclavicular region can be readily quantified by thermal imaging. This noninvasive imaging technique now has the potential to be used to assess brown adipose tissue function alone, or in combination with other techniques, in order to determine the roles of thermogenesis in energy balance and, therefore, obesity prevention.

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Available from: Michael E Symonds, Jun 05, 2014
    • "Although humans lack extensive interscapular BAT depots beyond infancy, the supraclavicular BAT depot can be imaged. In studies including children, teens, and adults, infrared thermography showed a supraclavicular temperature increase following a standard cool challenge (Lee et al., 2011a; Symonds et al., 2012). Taken together, the human and animal studies support the utility of infrared thermography to measure BAT activity noninvasively in field settings , and such studies are currently underway. "
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    ABSTRACT: The discovery that metabolically active brown fat is present in humans throughout ontogeny raises new questions about the interactions between thermoregulatory, metabolic, and skeletal homeostasis. Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is distinct from white adipose tissue (WAT) for its ability to burn, rather than store, energy. BAT uniquely expresses uncoupling protein-1 (abbreviated as UCP1), which diverts the energy produced by cellular respiration to generate heat. While BAT is found in small mammals, hibernators, and newborns, this depot was thought to regress in humans during early postnatal life. Recent studies revealed that human BAT remains metabolically active throughout childhood and even in adulthood, particularly in response to cold exposure. In addition to the constitutive BAT depots present at birth, BAT cells can be induced within WAT depots under specific metabolic and climatic conditions. These cells, called inducible brown fat, "brite," or beige fat, are currently the focus of intense investigation as a possible treatment for obesity. Inducible brown fat is associated with higher bone mineral density, suggesting that brown fat interacts with bone growth in previously unrecognized ways. Finally, BAT may have contributed to climatic adaptation in hominins. Here, I review current findings on the role of BAT in thermoregulation, bone growth, and metabolism, describe the potential role of BAT in moderating the obesity epidemic, and outline possible functions of BAT across hominin evolutionary history. Yrbk Phys Anthropol, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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    • "In one subject, this temperature difference became more pronounced following a meal ingestion and cold exposure, both known stimulants of BAT activity. Temperature increases within the supraclavicular region in response to cold exposure have also been confirmed with thermography in a recent study (Symonds et al. 2012). However, studies directly comparing and validating the results of IRT with PET- CT imaging have not been published. "
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    ABSTRACT: PET-CT using 18F-FDG is employed for detecting brown adipose tissue (BAT) in humans. Alternative methods are needed because of the radiation and cost of PET-CT imaging. The aim was to evaluate the accuracy of infrared thermography (IRT) in detecting human BAT benchmarked to PET-CT imaging. Seventeen individuals underwent a total of 29 PET-CT scans, 12 of whom were studied twice, after 2 h of cold stimulation at 19°C, in parallel with measurement of skin temperatures overlying the supraclavicular (SCV) fossa and the lateral upper chest (control), before and after cold stimulation. Of the 29 scans, 20 were BAT positive after cold stimulation. The mean left SCV temperature tended to be higher in the BAT-positive group before and during cooling. It was significantly higher (P = 0.04) than the temperature of the control area, which fell significantly during cooling in the BAT-positive (−1.2 ± 0.3°C, P = 0.002) but not in the negative (−0.2 ± 0.4°C) group. The temperature difference (Δtemp) between left SCV and chest increased during cooling in the BAT-positive (1.2 ± 0.2 to 2.0 ± 0.3°C, P < 0.002) but not in the negative group (0.6 ± 0.1 to 0.7 ± 0.1°C). A Δtemp of 0.9°C conferred a positive predictive value of 85% for SCV BAT, superior to that of SCV temperature. The findings were similar on the right. In conclusion, the Δtemp is significantly and consistently greater in BAT-positive subjects. The Δtemp quantified by IRT after 2-h cooling shows promise as a noninvasive convenient technique for studying SCV BAT function.
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    • "In our study, clavicular and subclavicular skin temperature did not correlate with BAT volume. This is likely explained by the fact that most of the clavicular BAT pool is located in the supraclavicular region ([23], and see Figure 1). Furthermore, core body temperature did not correlate with total BAT volume nor with total SUVmax. "
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    ABSTRACT: Brown adipose tissue (BAT) has emerged as a novel player in energy homeostasis in humans and is considered a potential new target for combating obesity and related diseases. The current 'gold standard' for quantification of BAT volume and activity is cold-induced 18F-FDG uptake in BAT. However, use of this technique is limited by cost and radiation exposure. Given the fact that BAT is a thermogenic tissue, mainly located in the supraclavicular region, the aim of the current study was to investigate whether cold-induced supraclavicular skin temperature and core body temperature may be alternative markers of BAT activation in humans.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2014 · PLoS ONE
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