Chronic inflammation: role of adipose tissue and modulation by weight loss

Curr Diabetes Rev. 2006 Feb;2(1):29-37. doi: 10.2174/157339906775473626.


Chronic inflammation has been linked with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. As an endocrine and inflammatory organ, adipose tissue is an important source of circulating pro-inflammatory cytokines. Current evidence strongly supports that chronic inflammation is associated with enlarged body fat mass. Moreover, inflammation is independently linked with abdominal, especially visceral fat mass, possibly due to the regional variation in adipose tissue cytokine production. In addition to pharmacological approaches, lifestyle modifications have been advocated for the treatment of chronic inflammation. A number of studies have indicated that either weight loss via energy restriction, or energy restriction plus other strategies (aerobic exercise, behavioral counseling, and liposuction), could reduce chronic inflammation. While the amount of weight loss tends to be important, exercise and other strategies may have additional effects. A few studies have reported weight loss effects on adipose tissue cytokine production. Weight loss reduces subcutaneous adipose tissue production of pro-inflammatory cytokines (i.e. interleukin 6, tumor necrosis factor alpha) and increases adipose expression of anti-inflammatory cytokines (i.e. interleukin 10, interleukin 1 receptor antagonist). More studies are needed to investigate the role of regional adipose tissue cytokine production in regulation of inflammation and the modulating effects of weight loss.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / physiopathology*
  • Animals
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cytokines / physiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / complications
  • Inflammation / physiopathology*
  • Inflammation / prevention & control*
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Models, Biological
  • Weight Loss*


  • Cytokines