Adipose tissue is an endocrine organ able to produce a wide series of pleiotropic molecules, defined “adipokines”. In addition to the regulation of food intake and energy metabolism, adipokines are also implicated in the complex control of bone biology and specifically of bone remodeling. Leptin, the most studied adipokine, promotes satiety and energy expenditure and its circulating levels are proportional to fat mass. Some paradoxical findings originally suggested the involvement of leptin in controlling bone mass. For example, obese postmenopausal women, with elevated circulating leptin and leptin resistance, appear protected against the development of osteoporosis. Moreover, genetically leptin-deficient mice, which are hypogonadal and obese, display a decreased trabecular volume in long bones, but an increased vertebral bone mass, which is reduced by leptin administration. The complex mechanisms of leptin regulation of bone mass appear to involve selected hypothalamic neuronal populations and the sympathetic outflow, with an important role of osteoblastic β2-adrenergic receptors. Adiponectin is another adipokine, which promotes insulin sensitivity and is reduced in obese and diabetic subjects. Adiponectin appears to exert a negative effect on bone mass and seems to be an independent predictor of lower bone mass. Although the adipokines resistin and visfatin do not seem to significantly affect bone metabolism, the potential impact of them and other adipokines is still to be determined. Moreover, the molecular adipokine-bone interactions should also be considered in the context of the adipokine changes observed in diseases such as obesity and the metabolic syndrome.
Keywords: Adipokines, leptin, adiponectin, resistin, visfatin, bone turnover, adipose tissue, osteoporosis
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