Role of Adipose Tissue in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Apr 19;22(8):4226. doi: 10.3390/ijms22084226.


Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs), chronic inflammatory disorders affecting the gastrointestinal tract, include Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. There are increasing clinical and experimental data showing that obesity, especially visceral adiposity, plays a substantial role in the pathogenesis of IBD. Obesity seems to be an important risk factor also for IBD disease severity and clinical outcomes. Visceral adipose tissue is an active multifunctional metabolic organ involved in lipid storage and immunological and endocrine activity. Bowel inflammation penetrates the surrounding adipose tissue along the mesentery. Mesenteric fat serves as a barrier to inflammation and controls immune responses to the translocation of gut bacteria. At the same time, mesenteric adipose tissue may be the principal source of cytokines and adipokines responsible for inflammatory processes associated with IBD. This review is particularly focusing on the potential role of adipokines in IBD pathogenesis and their possible use as promising therapeutic targets.

Keywords: adipokines; inflammatory bowel disease; mesenteric fat; microbiome; visceral obesity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipokines / metabolism
  • Adipose Tissue / immunology
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / immunology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / metabolism*
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / immunology
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / metabolism
  • Obesity, Abdominal / immunology
  • Obesity, Abdominal / metabolism


  • Adipokines