A.R. Shipman; G.W.M. Millington


The British Journal of Dermatology. 2011;165(4):743-750. 

In This Article

Physiological Function of Adipose Tissue

In adults, subcutaneous fat consists almost entirely of white adipose tissue (WAT; adipocytes), which provides insulation and acts as an energy source.[10–13] Where energy intake exceeds its expenditure, this excess energy is stored in adipocytes, leading to obesity.[10–13] WAT also produces many peptide hormones, cytokines and paracrine transmitters.[10–13] These include leptin, tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α, transforming growth factor-β, interleukin (IL)-1 and IL-6, acylation stimulating protein, adiponectin, resistin, visfatin, plasminogen activator inhibitor, androgens and nonesterified fatty acids.[6,10–13] WAT also acts as a source of functional mast cell progenitors.[14] The hyperinsulinaemia associated with obesity[2] augments the production of androgens from WAT[6] and reduces circulating sex-hormone binding globulin (SHBG) levels, which further increases the supply of available free androgens.[6]

In contrast, brown fat is most prominent in the newborn and its role appears to be physiologically distinct from that of white adipocytes.[15] The role of brown fat in the older child and adult is a subject of much investigation and has been well reviewed recently.[15]


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