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Trends Immunol. 2007 Sep;28(9):393-9. Epub 2007 Aug 2.

Adipose tissue as an immunological organ: Toll-like receptors, C1q/TNFs and CTRPs.

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Department of Internal Medicine I, University of Regensburg, D-93042 Regensburg, Germany.


Adipose tissue has long been regarded as a mostly resting tissue that is dedicated solely to energy storage and release. However, in recent years, this view has changed dramatically following new insights into the metabolic and immunological functions of preadipocytes and adipocytes. There are several lines of evidence for the involvement of adipose tissue in innate and acquired immune responses. First, adipocytes are potent producers of proinflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor (TNF), and chemokines. Furthermore, adipocytes secrete high amounts of adipokines, such as leptin, adiponectin and resistin, that regulate monocyte/macrophage function, and also secrete molecules associated with the innate immune system, such as the C1qTNF-related protein superfamily. Finally, preadipocytes and adipocytes express a broad spectrum of functional Toll-like receptors and the former can convert into macrophage-like cells. Collectively, these data clearly establish the role of adipose tissue as a new member of the immune system.

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