The role of the adipose tissue in immunity has recently emerged, and there is now ample evidence that this role is elucidated by a number of cytokine-like hormones produced by adipocytes – called adipokines. The most relevant adipokines are leptin, adiponectin and visfatin, and all have marked effects on metabolic and immune function. The discovery of adipokines has led to the development of a novel concept that the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis can be associated with low-degree inflammation associated with slow (auto)immune attack of the endothelial wall of arteries. This model considers therefore adipokines as the bridge between atherosclerosis, inflammation and immunity. We review here the most recent advances on adipokine research, with a particular emphasis on the model that considers atherosclerotic lesions as effects of the (auto)immune-mediated damage of the endothelium that is sustained by low-degree chronic inflammation typical of obesity and metabolic syndrome.
Keywords: Leptin, adipocytokines, inflammation, immunity, atherosclerosis
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