Nutritional control of molecular events has become of great interest given the increased incidence of diet-induced obesity, and consequently Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes, in recent years. The altered adipose tissue content in obese individuals results in an altered profile of circulating adipokines, and here we focus on adiponectin, whose circulating levels decrease in obese individuals. Adiponectin is a 30 kDa protein but circulates primarily as hexameric, oligomeric and, to a lesser extent, trimeric forms. Full-length adiponectin can also be cleaved to produce a fragment containing the globular domain that exerts potent metabolic effects. Adiponectin has insulin-mimetic and -sensitizing actions including stimulation of glucose uptake in skeletal muscle and suppression of glucose production in liver. Hence, adiponectin has attracted great interest as an antidiabetic agent. Adiponectin acts via two receptor isoforms, AdipoR1 (adiponectin receptor 1) and AdipoR2, which have distinct tissue distributions and affinities for recognition of the various adiponectin forms. Expression of AdipoR isoforms can be regulated by hyperinsulinaemia and hyperglycaemia with the consequence of increased sensitivity or resistance to specific forms of adiponectin. In summary, regulation of adiponectin or AdipoR expression may be of great importance in the development of metabolic perturbations characteristic of Type 2 diabetes in obese individuals.

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