The original concept of adipose tissue as an inert storage depot for the excess of energy has evolved over the last years and it is now considered as one of the most important organs regulating body homeostasis. This conceptual change has been supported by the demonstration that adipose tissue serves as a major endocrine organ, producing a wide variety of bioactive molecules, collectively termed adipokines, with endocrine, paracrine and autocrine activities. Adipose tissue is indeed a complex organ wherein mature adipocytes coexist with the various cell types comprising the stromal-vascular fraction (SVF), including preadipocytes, adipose-derived stem cells, perivascular cells, and blood cells. It is known that not only mature adipocytes but also the components of SVF produce adipokines. Furthermore, adipokine production, proliferative and metabolic activities and response to regulatory signals (i.e. insulin, catecholamines) differ between the different fat depots, which have been proposed to underlie their distinct association to specific diseases. Herein, we discuss the recent proteomic studies on adipose tissue focused on the analysis of the separate cellular components and their secretory products, with the aim of identifying the basic features and the contribution of each component to different adipose tissue-associated pathologies.
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