TNF-alpha and adipocyte biology

FEBS Lett. 2008 Jan 9;582(1):117-31. doi: 10.1016/j.febslet.2007.11.051. Epub 2007 Nov 26.


Dyslipidemia and insulin resistance are commonly associated with catabolic or lipodystrophic conditions (such as cancer and sepsis) and with pathological states of nutritional overload (such as obesity-related type 2 diabetes). Two common features of these metabolic disorders are adipose tissue dysfunction and elevated levels of tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha). Herein, we review the multiple actions of this pro-inflammatory adipokine on adipose tissue biology. These include inhibition of carbohydrate metabolism, lipogenesis, adipogenesis and thermogenesis and stimulation of lipolysis. TNF-alpha can also impact the endocrine functions of adipose tissue. Taken together, TNF-alpha contributes to metabolic dysregulation by impairing both adipose tissue function and its ability to store excess fuel. The molecular mechanisms that underlie these actions are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / cytology*
  • Adipocytes / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Body Temperature Regulation / physiology
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / physiology*


  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha