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Endocrinology. 2008 Mar;149(3):925-34. doi: 10.1210/en.2007-1355. Epub 2008 Jan 17.

Obesity and lipodystrophy--where do the circles intersect?

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University of California, San Francisco, Department of Laboratory Medicine, 185 Berry Street, Suite 290, San Francisco, California 94107-0134, USA.


Adipose tissue is unique in that it can undergo significant hypertrophy and atrophy, resulting in wide ranges of obesities and lipodystrophies. At the base of this elasticity is the lipid-filled adipocyte, which can either overfill by storing large amounts of triglycerides or shrink to a tiny cell by depleting its lipids and as such is remarkable in sustaining insults. As a major energy reservoir, the adipocyte may hold considerable calories necessary for survival and reproduction, two functions that are essential for the survival of the species. This review will summarize some of the recent studies that have advanced our understanding of the central and peripheral mechanisms that are initiated by adipocyte-secreted factors such as leptin, adiponectin, resistin, and retinol-binding protein 4. The intersection of obesity and lipodystrophy results in insulin resistance, which may be unlocked by elucidating the roles of these factors in pathways that control insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake.

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