Adipokines in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

Metabolism. 2016 Aug;65(8):1062-79. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2015.11.006. Epub 2015 Nov 24.


Since the discovery of adipose tissue as a higly active endocrine tissue, adipokines, peptides produced by adipose tissue and exerting autocrine, paracrine and endocrine function, have gained increasing interest in various obesity-related diseases, including nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Data regarding the association between NAFLD and circulating leptin and adiponectin levels are generally well documented: leptin levels increase, whereas adiponectin levels decrease, by increasing the severity of NAFLD. Data regarding other adipokines in histologically confirmed NAFLD populations are inconclusive (e.g., resistin, visfatin, retinol-binding protein-4, chemerin) or limited (e.g., adipsin, obestatin, omentin, vaspin etc.). This review summarizes evidence on the association between adipokines and NAFLD. The first part of the review provides general consideration on the interplay between adipokines and NAFLD, and the second part provides evidence on specific adipokines possibly involved in NAFLD pathogenesis. A thorough insight into the pathophysiologic mechanisms linking adipokines with NAFLD may result in the design of studies investigating the combined adipokine use as noninvasive diagnostic markers of NAFLD and new clinical trials targeting the treatment of NAFLD.

Keywords: Adipokines; Adiponectin; Leptin; Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease; Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis; Resistin.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adiponectin / blood*
  • Humans
  • Leptin / blood*
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / blood*
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / pathology
  • Resistin / blood


  • ADIPOQ protein, human
  • Adiponectin
  • Leptin
  • Resistin