Adipokines and the role of visceral adipose tissue in inflammatory bowel disease

Authors Thomas Karrasch, Andreas Schaeffler.


Recently, adipocytes have been recognized as actively participating in local and systemic immune responses via the secretion of peptides detectable in relevant levels in the systemic circulation, the so-called "adipo(cyto)kines". Multiple studies appearing within the last 10-15 years have focused on the possible impact of adipose tissue depots on inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Consequently, various hypotheses regarding the role of different adipokines in inflammatory diseases in general and in intestinal inflammatory processes in particular have been developed and have been further refined in recent years. After a focused summary of the data reported concerning the impact of visceral adipose tissue on IBD, such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, our review focuses on recent developments indicating that adipocytes as part of the innate immune system actively participate in antimicrobial host defenses in the context of intestinal bacterial translocation, which are of utmost importance for the homeostasis of the whole organism. Modulators of adipose tissue function and regulators of adipokine secretion, as well as modifiers of adipocytic pattern recognition molecules, might represent future potential drug targets in IBD.

Keywords Inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, adipose tissue, adipokines, leptin, adiponectin, innate immunity

Ann Gastroenterol 2016; 29 (4): 424-438

Invited Reviews