Adipocytes differentiate and function in environments rich in extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins. The phenotypes of genetically modified mice have aided in recognizing the importance of ECM proteins and their modifiers, e.g., proteinases, in the regulation of obesity and metabolism. Most of the molecular mechanisms through which ECM proteins and modifiers regulate adipogenesis or adipocyte function have not been fully defined. Adipose tissue fibrosis may be a factor that links obesity to diabetes or cardiovascular disease risk in conjunction with tissue inflammation. Defining the molecular mechanisms through which the ECM environment regulates adipogenesis and adipocyte function should provide us with a better understanding of the disease link between obesity and diabetes or cardiovascular diseases.
Keywords: ECM; MMP; fibrosis; inflammation; obesity.