Functional adipose tissue is essential for homeostatic maintenance of systemic metabolism. As such, adipose tissue dysfunction, like that seen in the obese state, directly contributes to system-wide pathological metabolism, leading to the development of type 2 diabetes and other obesity-associated comorbidities. In addition to the storage function of adipocytes, they also secrete numerous factors that robustly regulate metabolism-related pathways throughout the body. Many of these factors, in addition to other signaling proteins, RNA species and lipids, are found in extracellular vesicles (EVs) released from adipocytes. EVs are vesicles with a lipid bilayer, known to carry signaling proteins and lipids, mRNAs and miRNAs. Because of this diverse cargo, EVs can have robust and pleotropic signaling effects depending on the receiving target cells. We are only now starting to understand how adipocyte EVs can modulate metabolism within adipose tissue and beyond. Here, we highlight the current literature that demonstrates EV-mediated crosstalk between adipocytes and other tissues or distal cells. We become increasingly aware of the importance of these adipocyte-derived EV signals that establish a so far underappreciated endocrine system. Adipocyte EVs offer a new avenue for pharmacological manipulation of metabolism to treat obesity-related disease.
- Adipose tissue
- Extracellular vesicle