Adiposity signals, genetic and body weight regulation in humans

Diabetes Metab. 2004 Jun;30(3):215-27. doi: 10.1016/s1262-3636(07)70112-x.


Numerous signals convey information about body fat status from the periphery to the brain areas that control energy homeostasis so that, throughout life, body weight remains nearly stable. These signals mainly originate, either from the adipose tissue, like leptin and to a lesser extent interleukin 6, or from the pancreas, like insulin and amylin. These factors circulate in proportion to body fat mass and they are referred to as "adiposity signals". It is well established, at least for leptin and insulin, that they enter the brain from the plasma where they induce/repress a network of important neuropeptide regulators of energy intake and expenditure. Beside these endocrine signals, a growing amount of literature show data relative to adipocyte-derived molecules, most of them belonging to the cytokine family, like IL6, TNFalpha, IL8, IL10 whose secretion also correlates with body fat mass and that may locally regulate fat mass expansion. Others, like adiponectin, are negatively correlated with body fat mass. These "adiposity molecules" have already been involved in insulin resistance associated with obesity and inflammatory process. They may participate to a complex inter organ dialogue. In this review, we will synthesize data relative to the role played by insulin, leptin and amylin, either alone or through a cross talk, in "energy level sensing" at the brain level. Furthermore, we will develop how "adiposity molecules" through their paracrin and/or autocrin action may contribute to maintain fat mass expansion, therefore representing new adiposity molecules per se. Lastly, since any distortion in the metabolic circuitry of energy homeostasis is susceptible to lead to a pathological status like obesity, the impact of known genetic polymorphisms in genes encoding the adiposity signals will be discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / anatomy & histology*
  • Adipose Tissue / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Body Weight / genetics*
  • Cytokines / physiology
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / physiopathology
  • Insulin / physiology
  • Leptin / physiology
  • Obesity / genetics*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Cytokines
  • Insulin
  • Leptin