Nonshivering thermogenesis in marsupials: Absence of thermogenic response to beta 3-adrenergic agonists
Nicol, SC and Pavlides, D and Andersen, NA, Nonshivering thermogenesis in marsupials: Absence of thermogenic response to beta 3-adrenergic agonists, Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology. Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology , 117, (3) pp. 399-405. ISSN 0300-9629 (1997) [Refereed Article]
The status of nonshivering thermogenesis (NST) in marsupials remains controversial. Although morphological studies have failed to find evidence for the presence of brown adipose tissue (BAT) in adults or juveniles of species from all extant familes of marsupial, a number of studies have investigated the metabolic response of marsupials to noradrenaline (NA) and yielded conflicting results. In eutherian mammals, NA stimulates NST in BAT by acting on β3-receptors, and in the experiments reported here we investigated the response of adult and juvenile brush tail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula), a Brazilian opossum (Monodelphis domestica), adult and juvenile red-necked (Bennett's) wallabies (Macropus rufogriseus) and the laboratory rat to selective β3-agonists (ICI D7114 and BRL 35135) and to NA. Wallabies were tested with the β3-agonists only. Although NA and both β3-agonists caused an 85% increase in oxygen consumption in rats, there was no significant effect on any of the marsupials. These results clearly indicate no β3-stimulated NST in these marsupials. All reports of metabolic responses to NA are from macropods, and a recent study demonstrates that NA and other α-adrenergic agonists stimulate thermogenesis in a small macropod, the bettong (Bettongia gaimardi), by acting on α1-receptors. Thermogenic responses to NA seems to be restricted to macropods, showing the danger of characterising the response of any one marsupial species as being representative of marsupials as a group.