Last updated on: 25.09.2023

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Adipokines are a group of peptide hormones (polypeptides) that are predominantly produced and secreted in adipocytes of adipose tissue. Currently, more than 600 adipokines have been described in the human body with different biological properties. The most widely used classification focuses on their inflammatory properties and distinguishes between pro- and anti-inflammatory adipokines. The upregulation of pro-inflammatory adipokines leads to the development of a chronic, low-grade inflammatory state and contributes to metabolic dysfunction (Kovács D et al. 2020).

Many adipins transmit their signals via specific receptors. Others, however, act via receptors of various cytokines and hormones Kovács D et al. 2020). For example, adiponectin exerts its effect via two receptors. AdipoR1 is expressed by skeletal muscle and other tissues, and AdipoR2 is expressed by hepatocytes. Leptin, for example, exerts its biological effects via the leptin receptor (Ob-R), which belongs to the type I cytokine receptor family (Gorska E et al. 2010). The receptors for chemerin, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), and apelin are G protein-coupled receptors (GPRs) (Kovács D et al. (2020), whereas the effects of resistin, visfatin, and fetuin-A are mediated via the insulin receptor and a pattern recognition receptor (Toll-like receptor [TLR] (Fasshauer, M et al. (2015). Adiponectin receptors are members of the progestin and AdipoQ receptor families, whereas zinc-α2-glycoprotein (ZAG) is a β2-adrenoreceptor agonist. SERPINE1 binds to the urokinase receptor, lipocalin 2 (LCN2) may act through its own specific 24p3 receptor, and in the case of omentin-1, no specific receptor has yet been identified.

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The best-studied adipokines to date include:

  • Adiponectin
  • Apelin
  • Asprosin
  • Chemerin
  • CTRP-4
  • interleukin-6
  • Leptin
  • Monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1)
  • Omentin
  • Plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1)
  • Progranulin
  • Retinol-binding protein-4 (RBP4)
  • Tumor necrosis factor-α
  • Vaspin
  • Visfatin
  • Zinc alpha-2-glycoprotein (ZAG)

General information
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Adipokines are involved in important physiological functions such as carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, insulin sensitivity, appetite regulation, inflammatory processes and cardiac functions. Adipokines act as signaling molecules . In severe obesity, adipocyte function is deregulated and adipokines are produced in altered amounts. With the proliferation of adipose tissue in obesity, a diabetogenic, pro-inflammatory, and atherogenic adipokine pattern often develops. Indirect evidence for the importance of adipokines in energy and glucose homeostasis is also that, on the one hand, insulin-sensitizing drugs such as thiazolidinediones and metformin and, on the other hand, insulin resistance-inducing hormones such as catecholamines and glucocorticoids influence the regulation of adipokines.

Clinical picture
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Rosacea: Both metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance may be associated with rosacea. Leptin, adiponectin, resistin, SERPINE1, and visfatin were detectable in the sebaceous glands of rosacea skin, suggesting that sebaceous glands may contribute to the development of the characteristic inflammatory environment in rosacea through secretion of these adipokines .

Acne vulgaris: Although some work showed that there was no significant difference between circulating leptin, adiponectin, and RBP4 levels in patients with acne vulgaris, others found higher leptin and lower adiponectin serum concentrations. Interestingly, isotretinoin altered adiponectin levels and decreased leptin levels, which are already significantly lower at basal levels in acne patients compared to the control group (Kovács D et al. 2020).

Psoriasis: The role of adipokines in psoriasis has not been definitively clarified. As for anti-inflammatory adipokines, serum levels of adiponectin and omentin were significantly lower in psoriatics compared to healthy controls, and studies found a negative correlation with disease severity (Kovács D et al. 2020).

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Last updated on: 25.09.2023