Inflammatory lipid mediators in adipocyte function and obesity

Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2010 Feb;6(2):71-82. doi: 10.1038/nrendo.2009.264.


Survival of multicellular organisms depends on their ability to fight infection, metabolize nutrients, and store energy for times of need. Unsurprisingly, therefore, immunoregulatory and metabolic mechanisms interact in human conditions such as obesity. Both infiltrating immunoinflammatory cells and adipocytes play critical roles in the modulation of metabolic homeostasis, so it is important to understand factors that regulate both adipocyte and immune cell function. A currently favored paradigm for obesity-associated metabolic dysfunction is that chronic macronutrient and/or lipid overload (associated with adiposity) induces cellular stress that initiates and perpetuates an inflammatory cycle and pathophysiological signaling of immunoinflammatory cells and adipocytes. Many lipid mediators exert their biological effects by binding to cognate receptors, such as G-protein-coupled receptors and Toll-like receptors. This process is tightly regulated under normal physiological conditions, and any disruption can initiate disease processes. Observations that cellular lipid loading (associated with adiposity) initiates inflammatory events has encouraged studies on the role of lipid mediators. In this review, we speculate that lipid mediators act on important immune receptors to induce low-grade tissue inflammation, which leads to adipocyte and metabolic dysfunction.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / physiology*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Fatty Acids / physiology
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Immunity
  • Inflammation* / etiology
  • Inflammation* / physiopathology
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Lipids / physiology*
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Obesity* / complications
  • Obesity* / physiopathology
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / physiology
  • T-Lymphocytes
  • Toll-Like Receptors / physiology


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Fatty Acids
  • Lipids
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Toll-Like Receptors