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J Physiol Pharmacol. 2006 Dec;57(4):505-28.

Adipocytokines - novel link between inflammation and vascular function?

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Department of Internal Medicine, Jagiellonian University School of Medicine, Krakow, Poland.


Obesity and obesity related diseases are a major public health problem. Recent studies have shown that fat tissue is not a simple energy storage organ, but exerts important endocrine and immune functions. These are achieved predominantly through release of adipocytokines, which include several novel and highly active molecules released abundantly by adipocytes like leptin, resistin, adiponectin or visfatin, as well as some more classical cytokines released possibly by inflammatory cells infiltrating fat, like TNF-alpha, IL-6, MCP-1 (CCL-2), IL-1. All of those molecules may act on immune cells leading to local and generalized inflammation and may also affect vascular (endothelial) function by modulating vascular nitric oxide and superoxide release and mediating obesity related vascular disorders (including hypertension, diabetes, atherosclerosis, and insulin resistance) but also cancer or non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases. Present review, in a concise form, focuses on the effects of major adipocytokines, characteristic for adipose tissue like leptin, adiponectin, resistin and visfatin on the immune system, particularly innate and adaptive immunity as well as on blood vessels. Macrophages and T cells are populating adipose tissue which develops into almost an organized immune organ. Activated T cells further migrate to blood vessels, kidney, brain and other organs surrounded by infiltrated fat leading to their damage, thus providing a link between metabolic syndrome, inflammation and cardiovascular and other associated disorders. Ceretain treatments may lead to significant changes in adipocytokine levels. For example include beta-2 adrenoreceptor agonists, thiazolidinediones as well as androgens lead to decrease of plasma leptin levels. Moreover future treatments of metabolic system associated disorders should focus on the regulation of adipocytokines and their modes of action.

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