Obesity is a major public health problem in Western countries, and >55% of adult Americans are overweight or obese. A major contributor to the epidemic of obesity is the current environment, which is characterized by increased availability of high energy foods and decreased physical activity. Several studies also demonstrated that genetic susceptibility contributes to obesity in some populations. Obesity research has focused primarily on the role of the hypothalamus in neuroendocrine regulation of food intake. However, a growing number of studies support a potential contribution of adipose tissue, via its newly discovered secretory function, to the pathogenesis of obesity and co-morbid conditions including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and hypertension. This paper will review the role of four factors secreted by adipose tissue (leptin, agouti, angiotensin II and prostaglandins) and their functions in the regulation of energy balance and whole-body homeostasis. Several other peptide and nonpeptide substances are secreted from adipose tissue; their function and regulation have been documented extensively.
- Adipocyte differentiation
- Angiotensin II