Modulation of adipose tissue inflammation by bioactive food compounds

J Nutr Biochem. 2013 Apr;24(4):613-23. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2012.12.013.


Adipose tissue has an important endocrine function in the regulation of whole-body metabolism. Obesity leads to a chronic low-grade inflammation of the adipose tissue, which disrupts this endocrine function and results in metabolic derangements, such as type-2 diabetes. Dietary bioactive compounds, such as polyphenols and certain fatty acids, are known to suppress both systemic and adipose tissue inflammation and have the potential to improve these obesity-associated metabolic disorders. Mechanistically, polyphenolic compounds including non-flavonoids, such as curcumin and resveratrol, and flavonoids, such as catechins (tea-polyphenols), quercetin and isoflavones, suppress nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) and mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases (MAPK) pathways while activating the 5' adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) pathway in adipose tissue. Dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), such as oleic acid, also impart anti-inflammatory effects through several mechanisms. These include activation of AMPK and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPAR-γ), as well as suppression of toll-like receptors (TLRs) and NF-κB pathway. This review discusses the major molecular mechanisms of dietary polyphenols and fatty acids, alone or in combination, which are responsible for adipose tissue-associated anti-inflammatory effects.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / physiopathology*
  • Curcumin / administration & dosage
  • Endocrine Glands / physiopathology
  • Fatty Acids / administration & dosage
  • Food*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / prevention & control*
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Polyphenols / administration & dosage
  • Quercetin / administration & dosage
  • Resveratrol
  • Stilbenes / administration & dosage


  • Fatty Acids
  • Polyphenols
  • Stilbenes
  • Quercetin
  • Curcumin
  • Resveratrol