Adapting to obesity with adipose tissue inflammation

Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2017 Nov;13(11):633-643. doi: 10.1038/nrendo.2017.90. Epub 2017 Aug 11.


Adipose tissue not only has an important role in the storage of excess nutrients but also senses nutrient status and regulates energy mobilization. An overall positive energy balance is associated with overnutrition and leads to excessive accumulation of fat in adipocytes. These cells respond by initiating an inflammatory response that, although maladaptive in the long run, might initially be a physiological response to the stresses obesity places on adipose tissue. In this Review, we characterize adipose tissue inflammation and review the current knowledge of what triggers obesity-associated inflammation in adipose tissue. We examine the connection between adipose tissue inflammation and the development of insulin resistance and catecholamine resistance and discuss the ensuing state of metabolic inflexibility. Finally, we review the current and potential new anti-inflammatory treatments for obesity-associated metabolic disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adipocytes / immunology
  • Adipose Tissue / immunology*
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Catecholamines / metabolism
  • Energy Metabolism / immunology*
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Insulin Resistance / immunology*
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Obesity / immunology*
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Overnutrition / immunology*
  • Overnutrition / metabolism


  • Catecholamines