Obesity and obesity-related disorders play an important role in clinical medicine. Adipose tissue, with its soluble mediators called adipocytokines, has emerged as a major endocrine organ. These adipocytokines comprise many mediators such as adiponectin, PBEF (pre-B-cell-enhancing factor)/visfatin, leptin, resistin, retinol-binding protein-4 and others. They play major roles in key aspects of metabolism, such as insulin resistance, fatty acid oxidation, inflammation and immunity. Adiponectin, a prototypic adipocytokine, is of importance in the regulation of insulin resistance, as circulating levels are decreased in obesity and diseases associated with insulin resistance. Besides its major role in regulation of insulin sensitivity, recent evidence suggests potent anti-inflammatory functions for adiponectin. These effects are paralleled by other immune-regulatory properties, such as regulation of endothelial cell function. The in vitro effects of adiponectin have been corroborated by several studies demonstrating potent in vivo anti-inflammatory effects. Many other adipocytokines, such as PBEF/visfatin, leptin, resistin or retinol binding protein-4, are involved in the physiology and pathophysiology of adipocytes, adipose tissue and related diseases. PBEF/visfatin, another recently characterized adipocytokine, has been linked to several inflammatory disease states beyond insulin resistance, such as acute lung injury or inflammatory bowel diseases. It has been recognized for many decades that obesity is accompanied by an increase in cancer and potentially some immune-mediated diseases. Understanding this new exciting world of adipocytokines will be of importance in the development of novel therapies for obesity-associated diseases.

You do not currently have access to this content.