Human adipose dynamics and metabolic health
Article first published online: 14 JAN 2013
© 2013 New York Academy of Sciences.
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Volume 1281, The Year in Diabetes and Obesity pages 160–177, April 2013
How to Cite
Feng, B., Zhang, T. and Xu, H. (2013), Human adipose dynamics and metabolic health. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1281: 160–177. doi: 10.1111/nyas.12009
- Issue published online: 1 APR 2013
- Article first published online: 14 JAN 2013
- NIH Grant. Grant Number: R01-DK 080746
- American Heart Association. Grant Number: 0830190N
The two types of adipose tissue in humans, white and brown, have distinct developmental origins and functions. Human white adipose tissue plays a pivotal role in maintaining whole-body energy homeostasis by storing triglycerides when energy is in surplus, releasing free fatty acids as a fuel during energy shortage, and secreting adipokines that are important for regulating lipid and glucose metabolism. The size of white adipose mass needs to be kept at a proper set point. Dramatic expansion of white fat mass causes obesity—now become a global epidemic disease—and increases the risk for the development of many life-threatening diseases. The absence of white adipose tissue or abnormal white adipose tissue redistribution leads to lipodystrophy, a condition often associated with metabolic disorders. Brown adipose tissue is a thermogenic organ whose mass is inversely correlated with body mass index and age. Therapeutic approaches targeting adipose tissue have been proven to be effective in improving obesity-related metabolic disorders, and promising new therapies could be developed in the near future.