A potential role for endogenous oxytocin in adaptation to cold: implications for health?


Brown adipose tissue
Brown fat


Cold water swimming is thought to provide mental and physical health benefits, although the details of the potential signalling pathways involved in the body have not yet been fully established. We know that brown fat/brown adipose tissue is important in thermogenesis, thereby possibly helping in training the body to adapt to cold stimuli. As a result of brown adipose tissue thermogenesis during cold exposure, the body uses up the stored fat energy to produce heat energy. Such metabolism of fat can therefore help combat diseases associated with gain of fat, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Here, we present a potential role for oxytocin in stimulating brown adipose tissue thermogenesis during cold exposure and adaptation. We discuss cold adaptation and brown adipose tissue thermogenesis, and present our hypothesis for the role of oxytocin in cold adaptation and its perceived benefits for health.



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