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Keywords:

  • adipose tissue;
  • cytokine;
  • inflammation;
  • lipolysis;
  • macrophage

Abstract.

From its initial implication in the development of cachexia in the early 1980s, it is now almost 15 years ago that tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) was first shown to be involved in the development of insulin resistance in obesity. Since the original findings in mice, a wealth of data has been obtained in a variety of settings and species. This intensive research has demonstrated both similarities and differences between rodents and humans regarding the molecular mechanisms and metabolic consequences of TNF-α overexpression. This review will focus on the role of TNF-α in human white adipose tissue with particular emphasis on its regulation of lipolysis – an important pathway in adipocytes which is linked to insulin-resistant phenotypes in obesity and the metabolic syndrome.