Adiponectin action from head to toe

Endocrine. 2010 Feb;37(1):11-32. doi: 10.1007/s12020-009-9278-8. Epub 2009 Dec 1.


Adiponectin, the most abundant protein secreted by white adipose tissue, is known for its involvement in obesity-related disorders such as insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes mellitus and atherosclerosis. Moreover, modulation of the circulating adiponectin concentration is observed in pathologies that are more or less obesity-related, such as cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. The wide distribution of adiponectin receptors in various organs and tissues suggests that adiponectin has pleiotropic effects on numerous physiological processes. Besides its well-known insulin-sensitizing, anti-inflammatory and antiatherosclerotic properties, accumulating evidence suggests that adiponectin may also have anticancer properties and be cardioprotective. A beneficial effect of adiponectin on female reproductive function was also suggested. Since adiponectin has numerous beneficial biological functions, its use as a therapeutic agent has been suggested. However, the use of adiponectin or its receptors as therapeutic targets is complicated by the presence of different adiponectin oligomeric isoforms and production sites, by multiple receptors with differing affinities for adiponectin isoforms, and by cell-type-specific effects in different tissues. In this review, we discuss the known and potential roles of adiponectin in various tissues and pathologies. The therapeutic promise of administration of adiponectin and the use of its circulating levels as a diagnostic biomarker are further discussed based on the latest experimental studies.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adiponectin / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Receptors, Adiponectin / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Adiponectin
  • Receptors, Adiponectin