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Pathology Forum
September 2000

Quiz Case 2

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2000;126(9):1158-1159. doi:

The hibernoma is a rare benign tumor derived from vestigial remnants of brown adipose cells left from early embryonic development.1,2 Brown fat was first identified in the human embryo in 1902.1 Four years later, in 1906, the first tumor of brown fat was described.3 The tumor is brown because of the presence of numerous mitochondria, with their high concentration of cytochrome pigments and prominent blood supply.1,2 The tumor was termed hibernoma, which comes from the Latin word hibernare, to hibernate, because of the similarity to the hibernating gland found in certain mammals.2,4 Unlike white adipose tissue, which primarily serves as an energy store, brown adipose tissue, containing an abundance of mitochondria and glycogen, serves primarily to create heat.

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