Obesity Hormones in Health and Disease


Obesity is a medical condition as excess body weight in the form of fat, resulting from a chronic imbalance of energy homoeostasis. The prevalence of obesity in adults and children is rapidly rising and it is now the major contributors to metabolic disorders. Energy balance is controlled with short‐ and long‐term signals generated by the central nervous system, gastrointestinal tract and adipose tissue. The knowledge of obesity hormones (adipokines) released by adipose tissue will allow us to develop new anti‐obesity pharmacotherapies amplifying anorexigenic and lipolytic signalling or blocking orexigenic and lipogenic signalling.

Key Concepts:

  • Obesity is a medical condition resulting from the failure of energy homoeostasis. Obesity is most prevalent in westernised countries, associated with some chronic diseases (i.e. type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancers), shortens life duration and the increases mortality rates.

  • There has been important endocrine alterations in many physiological systems are attracting interest to understand the pathological mechanisms of obesity.

  • Although adipose tissue can be considered as storage organ of excess energy, adipocytes released adipokines to control the growth of adipose tissue or the energy homoeostasis and body weight regulation.

  • Obesity hormones (adipokines) released by adipose tissue to play a major role in the regulation of energy homoeostasis such as adiponectin, apelin, angiotensin II, ASP, leptin, PAI‐1, MCP‐1, omentin, resistin, visfatin, proinflammmatory cytokines and glucocorticoids.

  • Understanding the physiological and pathological roles of adipokines in health and disease in humans will allow us to find potential therapeutic targets for the treatment of obesity‐related disorders.

Keywords: obesity; adiponectin; apelin; angiotensin II; ASP; leptin; PAI‐1; MCP‐1; omentin; resistin; visfatin; glucocorticoids; type 2 diabetes

Figure 1.

In human body, the arcuate nucleus (ARC) is the major target for short‐term signals that regulate human appetite. ARC contains two distinct neuronal subtypes expressing the anorexigenic (appetite decreasing) neuropeptides, POMC, and CART or expressing orexigenic (appetite stimulating) neuropeptides, NPY and AgRP (Hagan and Niswender, ; Parker and Bloom, ). Long‐term signals are generated for metabolic energy needs of body, regulated by hormonal systems as leptin and insulin (Harrold, ). Leptin is predominantly synthesised by WAT, reduces food intake and increases energy expenditure, resulting in body weight loss. Insulin is secreted by pancreatic β‐cells in response to elevated blood glucose. Thus, glucose is metabolised and excess energy stored as glycogen (Pliquett et al., ). Leptin and insulin inhibit anabolic neural circuits and stimulate catabolic circuits to increase energy expenditure.



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Caylak, Emrah(Aug 2012) Obesity Hormones in Health and Disease. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0024166]