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J Pediatr (Rio J). 2007 Nov;83(5 Suppl):S192-203. doi: 10.2223/JPED.1709. Epub 2007 Nov 8.

Adipose tissue as an endocrine organ: from theory to practice.

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Doutora, Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas (ICB), Universidade de São Paulo (USP), São Paulo, SP, Brazil.



To describe the advances in research into the physiological role of white adipose tissue, with emphasis on its endocrinal role in inflammatory processes, feeding behavior, insulin sensitization and modulation of the atherogenetic process. To deal with the potential role of adipose tissue as a source of stem cells for regeneration of tissues, with special emphasis on adipogenesis and its consequences for development of obesity.


Important information was compiled from the scientific literature in order that this analysis contains an explanatory synthesis of the aspects mentioned above. SUMMARY OF THE FINDINGS In addition to its classical functions as primary metabolic energy store, meeting energy requirements during periods of deprivation by means of lypolisis, adipose tissue also has the capacity to synthesize and secrete a variety of hormones - the adipokines. These are active in a range of processes, such as control of nutritional intake (leptin) and control of sensitivity to insulin and inflammatory processes (TNF-alpha, IL-6, resistin, visfatin, adiponectin). Furthermore, since adipose tissue also contains undifferentiated cells, it has the ability to generate new adipocytes, regenerating its own tissue (adipogenesis), and also the ability to give rise to other cells (myoblasts, chondroblasts, osteoblasts), which has great therapeutic potential in the not-too-distant future.


The range of functional possibilities of adipose tissue has widened. An understanding of these potentials could make this tissue a great ally in the fight against conditions that are currently assuming epidemic proportions (obesity, diabetes mellitus, arterial hypertension and arteriosclerosis) and in which adipose tissue is still seen as the enemy.

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