Denervation as a tool for testing sympathetic control of white adipose tissue

Ruth B.S. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


This review summarizes the evidence derived from studies utilizing denervation procedures to demonstrate sympathetic control of white adipose tissue metabolism and body fat mass. A majority of the work demonstrating neural control of white fat was performed in the Bartness laboratory with Siberian hamsters as the predominant experimental model. These animals experience dramatic changes in body fat mass in response to changes in photoperiod, however, the mechanisms identified in hamsters have been reproduced or further elucidated by experiments with other animal models. Evidence for the role of sympathetic innervation contributing to the control of white adipocyte lipolysis and preadipocyte proliferation is summarized. In addition, evidence from denervation experiments for neural communication between different white fat depots as well as for a feedback control loop between sensory afferents from individual fat depots and sympathetic efferents to the same or distant white fat depots is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-10
Number of pages8
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Adipocyte lipolysis
  • Leptin
  • Preadipocyte proliferation
  • Sympathectomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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