AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is a heterotrimeric enzyme that plays a major role in the maintenance of energy homeostasis in various organs and tissues. When activated, AMPK can induce substrate catabolism and shut down energy-consuming anabolic pathways to increase intracellular ATP availability. Even though most of these effects have been described in muscle and liver, several studies have provided compelling evidence that AMPK also plays an important role in the regulation of white adipose tissue (WAT) glucose and lipid metabolism. In fact, the effects of acute and chronic AMPK activation in the WAT induce profound changes in adiposity with important implications for the treatment of obesity and its related metabolic disorders. This review discusses the role of AMPK in the regulation of white adipocyte metabolism with respect to energy storage and release, gene expression, mitochondrial biogenesis, oxidative capacity, cell differentiation, and the potential impact on whole-body adiposity and energy homeostasis.
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