The Role of Adipokines in the Establishment and Progression of Head and Neck Neoplasms

Curr Med Chem. 2019;26(25):4726-4748. doi: 10.2174/0929867325666180713154505.


Adipokines constitute a family of protein factors secreted by white adipose tissue (WAT), that regulate the functions of WAT and other sites. Leptin, adiponectin and resistin, are the main adipokines present in serum and saliva, targeting several tissues and organs, including vessels, muscles, liver and pancreas. Besides body mass regulation, adipokines affect glucose homeostasis, inflammation, angiogenesis, cell proliferation and apoptosis, and other crucial cell procedures. Their involvement in tumor formation and growth is well established and deregulation of adipokine and adipokine receptors' expression is observed in several malignancies including those located in the head and neck region. Intracellular effects of adipokines are mediated by a plethora of receptors that activate several signaling cascades including Janus kinase/ Signal transducer and activator of transcription (JAK/ STAT pathway), Phospatidylinositol kinase (PI3/ Akt/ mTOR) and Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR). The present review summarizes the current knowledge on the role of adipokines family members in carcinogenesis of the head and neck region. The diagnostic and prognostic significance of adipokines and their potential role as serum and saliva biomarkers are also discussed.

Keywords: Adipokines; adiponectin; esophageal cancer; head and neck cancer; leptin; oral squamous cell carcinoma; salivary gland tumors; thyroid cancer..

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipokines / therapeutic use*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Humans


  • Adipokines
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Biomarkers, Tumor