Author(s): Greenberg AS, Obin MS
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Abstract Recent discoveries, notably of the hormones leptin and adiponectin, have revised the notion that adipocytes are simply a storage depot for body energy. Instead, adipocytes are also endocrine organs, with multiple metabolic roles in regulating whole-body physiology. Small adipocytes in lean individuals promote metabolic homeostasis; the enlarged adipocytes of obese individuals recruit macrophages and promote inflammation and the release of a range of factors that predispose toward insulin resistance. Exercise activates the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) in muscle and other tissues, a pathway that increases fat oxidation and glucose transport. Importantly, the adipocyte hormones leptin and adiponectin also activate AMPK; remarkably, the same pathway is activated by certain antidiabetic agents such as thiazolidinediones. Increasingly, our understanding of the adipocyte as an endocrine organ is leading to new insights into obesity and health.
This article was published in Am J Clin Nutr
and referenced in Internal Medicine: Open Access