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J Nutr. 2006 Jul;136(7 Suppl):1935S-1939S.

Adipose tissue and adipokines--energy regulation from the human perspective.

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Obesity Biology Unit, School of Clinical Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 3GA, UK.


There has been a rapid rise in the incidence of obesity, primarily as a result of changes in lifestyle (diet and activity levels). Obesity has provided considerable impetus for the investigation of the fundamental mechanisms involved in the regulation of energy balance. Important developments include the identification of novel factors involved in the control of appetite, such as ghrelin, orexin A, and the endogenous cannabinoids, and the emergence of the concept of "nonexercise activity thermogenesis" (NEAT) provided new perspectives on energy expenditure. Studies on white adipose tissue have led to the recognition that it is an important endocrine organ, communicating with the brain and peripheral tissues through the secretion of leptin and other adipokines. There is a rapidly expanding list of protein factors released by white adipose tissue, including the key hormone, adiponectin. Of particular note is the range of cytokines, chemokines, and other inflammation-related proteins secreted by white fat as tissue mass rises; indeed, obesity is characterized by chronic mild inflammation. The adipokines provide an extensive network of communication both within adipose tissue and with other organs, and some are implicated directly in the pathologies associated with obesity, particularly the metabolic syndrome. Although the focus remains very much on obesity in humans, the disorder and its sequelae are also a growing concern in companion animals.

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