Beyond adiponectin and leptin: Adipose tissue-derived mediators of inter-organ communication

Jan Bernd Funcke, Philipp E. Scherer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

179 Scopus citations


The breakthrough discoveries of leptin and adiponectin more than two decades ago led to a widespread recognition of adipose tissue as an endocrine organ. Many more adipose tissue-secreted signaling mediators (adipokines) have been identified since then, and much has been learned about how adipose tissue communicates with other organs of the body to maintain systemic homeostasis. Beyond proteins, additional factors, such as lipids, metabolites, noncoding RNAs, and extracellular vesicles (EVs), released by adipose tissue participate in this process. Here, we review the diverse signaling mediators and mechanisms adipose tissue utilizes to relay information to other organs. We discuss recently identified adipokines (proteins, lipids, and metabolites) and briefly outline the contributions of noncoding RNAs and EVs to the ever-increasing complexities of adipose tissue inter-organ communication. We conclude by reflecting on central aspects of adipokine biology, namely, the contribution of distinct adipose tissue depots and cell types to adipokine secretion, the phenomenon of adipokine resistance, and the capacity of adipose tissue to act both as a source and sink of signaling mediators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1648-1697
Number of pages50
JournalJournal of lipid research
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2019


  • Angiopoietin
  • Angiopoietin-like protein
  • Bone morphogenic protein
  • Chemerin
  • Endotrophin
  • Extracellular vesicles
  • Fatty acid esters of hydroxy fatty acids
  • Fibroblast growth factor 21
  • Lipocalin 2
  • Long noncoding ribonucleic acids
  • Lysophosphatidic acids
  • Micro-ribonucleic acids
  • Neuregulin 4
  • Sphingolipids
  • Uric acid
  • Uridine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Cell Biology


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