Adiposopathy: How Do Diet, Exercise and Weight Loss Drug Therapies Improve Metabolic Disease in Overweight Patients?

Expert Rev Cardiovasc Ther. 2006 Nov;4(6):871-95. doi: 10.1586/14779072.4.6.871.


An increase in bodyweight is generally associated with an increased risk of excessive fat-related metabolic diseases (EFRMD), including Type 2 diabetes mellitus, hypertension and dyslipidemia. However, not all patients who are overweight have EFRMD, and not all patients with EFRMD are significantly overweight. The adipocentric paradigm provides the basis for a unifying, pathophysiological process whereby fat gain in susceptible patients leads to fat dysfunction ('sick fat'), and wherein pathological abnormalities in fat function (adiposopathy) are more directly related to the onset of EFRMD than increases in fat mass (adiposity) alone. But just as worsening fat function worsens EFRMD, improved fat function improves EFRMD. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma agonists increase the recruitment, proliferation and differentiation of preadipocytes ('healthy fat') and cause apoptosis of hypertrophic and dysfunctional (including visceral) adipocytes resulting in improved fat function and improved metabolic parameters associated with EFRMD. Weight loss interventions, such as a hypocaloric diet and physical exercise, in addition to agents such as orlistat, sibutramine and cannabinoid receptor antagonists, may have favorable effects upon fat storage (lipogenesis and fat distribution), nutrient metabolism (such as free fatty acids), favorable effects upon adipose tissue factors involved in metabolic processes and inflammation, and enhanced 'cross-talk' with other major organ systems. In some cases, weight loss therapeutic agents may even affect metabolic parameters and adipocyte function independently of weight loss alone, suggesting that the benefit of these agents in improving EFRMD may go beyond their efficacy in weight reduction. This review describes how adiposopathy interventions may affect fat function, and thus improve EFRMD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Anti-Obesity Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Diet, Reducing*
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Metabolic Syndrome / etiology*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Metabolic Syndrome / prevention & control*
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Risk Factors
  • Weight Loss


  • Anti-Obesity Agents