The sympathetic thermoregulatory system controls the magnitude of adaptive thermogenesis in correspondence to the environmental temperature or the state of energy intake, and plays a key role in determining the resultant energy storage. However, the nature of the trigger initiating this reflex arc remains to be determined. Here, using capsiate, a digestion-vulnerable capsaicin analog, we examined the involvement of specific activation of transient receptor potential (TRP) channels within the gastrointestinal tract in the thermogenic sympathetic system, by measuring the efferent activity of the postganglionic sympathetic nerve innervating brown adipose tissue (BAT) in anesthetized rats. Intragastric administration of capsiate resulted in a time- and dose-dependent increase in integrated BAT sympathetic nerve activity (SNA) over 180 min, which was characterized by an emergence of sporadic high-activity phases composed of low-frequency bursts. This increase in BAT SNA was abolished by blockade of the TRP channels as well as of sympathetic ganglionic transmission, and was inhibited by ablation of the gastrointestinal vagus nerve. The activation of SNA was delimited to BAT, and did not occur in the heart or pancreas. These results point to a neural pathway enabling selective activation of the central network regulating the BAT SNA in response to a specific stimulation of the gastrointestinal TRP channels, and offer important implications for understanding the dietary-dependent regulation of energy metabolism and control of obesity.
- brown adipose tissue
- sympathetic nervous system
- Copyright © 2010, Journal of Applied Physiology