Adipose tissue, adipokines, and inflammation

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2005 May;115(5):911-9; quiz 920. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2005.02.023.


White adipose tissue is no longer considered an inert tissue mainly devoted to energy storage but is emerging as an active participant in regulating physiologic and pathologic processes, including immunity and inflammation. Macrophages are components of adipose tissue and actively participate in its activities. Furthermore, cross-talk between lymphocytes and adipocytes can lead to immune regulation. Adipose tissue produces and releases a variety of proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory factors, including the adipokines leptin, adiponectin, resistin, and visfatin, as well as cytokines and chemokines, such as TNF-alpha, IL-6, monocyte chemoattractant protein 1, and others. Proinflammatory molecules produced by adipose tissue have been implicated as active participants in the development of insulin resistance and the increased risk of cardiovascular disease associated with obesity. In contrast, reduced leptin levels might predispose to increased susceptibility to infection caused by reduced T-cell responses in malnourished individuals. Altered adipokine levels have been observed in a variety of inflammatory conditions, although their pathogenic role has not been completely clarified.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / metabolism
  • Adiponectin
  • Adipose Tissue / immunology*
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / metabolism
  • Complement Factor D
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Hormones, Ectopic / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism
  • Leptin / metabolism
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Nicotinamide Phosphoribosyltransferase
  • Obesity / immunology*
  • Resistin
  • Serine Endopeptidases / metabolism


  • Adiponectin
  • Cytokines
  • Hormones, Ectopic
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Leptin
  • RETN protein, human
  • Resistin
  • Nicotinamide Phosphoribosyltransferase
  • nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase, human
  • Serine Endopeptidases
  • CFD protein, human
  • Complement Factor D