Adipose tissue not only possesses an important role in the storage of excess nutrients but also acts as a critical immune and endocrine organ. Researchers and clinicians now consider adipose tissue to be an active endocrine organ that secretes various humoral factors called “adipokines,” which imparts important systemic metabolic effects, from food intake to glucose tolerance. Along with its production of specialized adipokines, adipose tissue also secretes proinflammatory cytokines that likely contributes to the low-level systemic inflammation that has become a hallmark of various metabolic syndrome-associated chronic pathologies, such as obesity and cancer cachexia. These systemic effects may be mediated by communication networks arising from the multitude of resident adipose cells, including adipocytes, endothelial cells, neuronal cells, stem cells and other precursors, and a wide variety of immune cell populations that recent studies have demonstrated play a crucial role in the development of adipose inflammation and systemic metabolic abnormalities. In this chapter, we detail various molecular pathways linking excess adipose lipid storage to chronic inflammation and review the current knowledge as to what triggers obesity- and cachexia-associated inflammation in adipose tissue. Finally, we describe how the cross talk between adipose tissue inflammation and the non-adipocyte resident cells present in tissue is involved in this metabolic disruption.
Part of the book: Adipose Tissue