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Acta Physiol Scand. 2005 Aug;184(4):285-93.

Endocrine and signalling role of adipose tissue: new perspectives on fat.

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1
Neuroendocrine and Obesity Biology Unit, Liverpool Centre for Nutritional Genomics, School of Clinical Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK. p.trayhurn@liverpool.ac.uk

Abstract

White adipose tissue (WAT) is now recognized as a major endocrine and secretory organ, releasing a wide range of protein factors and signals termed adipokines - in addition to fatty acids and other lipid moieties. A paradigm shift came with the discovery of leptin, a pleiotropic hormone which is a critical signal to the hypothalamus in the control of appetite and energy balance. A number of adipokines, including adiponectin, tumour necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin (IL)-1beta, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1, macrophage migration inhibitory factor, nerve growth factor, vascular endothelial growth factor, plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 and haptoglobin, are linked to inflammation and the inflammatory response. Obesity is characterized by a state of mild inflammation, and the expression and release of inflammation-related adipokines generally rises as adipose tissue expands; a notable exception is adiponectin, with its anti-inflammatory action, the levels of which fall. WAT may be the main site of inflammation in obesity, increased circulating levels of inflammatory markers reflecting spillover from an 'inflamed' tissue, leading to the obesity-associated pathologies of type 2 diabetes and the metabolic syndrome. From the wide range of adipokines now identified, it is evident that WAT is highly integrated into overall physiological regulation, involving extensive crosstalk with other organs and multiple metabolic systems. Whether major changes in adipokine production in obesity, particularly of those factors linked to inflammation, are unique to this condition, or are a feature of all situations in which there are substantial increases in adipose mass (such as pregnancy, and pre-hibernatory and pre-migratory fattening) requires consideration.

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