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Program in Molecular Medicine; Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

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Amino Acids, Peptides, and Proteins | Digestive System Diseases | Endocrinology | Hormones, Hormone Substitutes, and Hormone Antagonists | Molecular Biology


Adipose tissue is a highly dynamic endocrine tissue and constitutes a central node in the interorgan crosstalk network through adipokines, which cause pleiotropic effects, including the modulation of angiogenesis, metabolism, and inflammation. Specifically, digestive cancers grow anatomically near adipose tissue. During their interaction with cancer cells, adipocytes are reprogrammed into cancer-associated adipocytes and secrete adipokines to affect tumor cells. Moreover, the liver is the central metabolic hub. Adipose tissue and the liver cooperatively regulate whole-body energy homeostasis via adipokines. Obesity, the excessive accumulation of adipose tissue due to hyperplasia and hypertrophy, is currently considered a global epidemic and is related to low-grade systemic inflammation characterized by altered adipokine regulation. Obesity-related digestive diseases, including gastroesophageal reflux disease, Barrett's esophagus, esophageal cancer, colon polyps and cancer, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, viral hepatitis-related diseases, cholelithiasis, gallbladder cancer, cholangiocarcinoma, pancreatic cancer, and diabetes, might cause specific alterations in adipokine profiles. These patterns and associated bases potentially contribute to the identification of prognostic biomarkers and therapeutic approaches for the associated digestive diseases. This review highlights important findings about altered adipokine profiles relevant to digestive diseases, including hepatic, pancreatic, gastrointestinal, and biliary tract diseases, with a perspective on clinical implications and mechanistic explorations.


HBV, HCV, NAFLD, adipokine, adiponectin, biliary, colon, esophagus, gallbladder, leptin, pancreas, small intestine, stomach

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© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (

DOI of Published Version



Chang ML, Yang Z, Yang SS. Roles of Adipokines in Digestive Diseases: Markers of Inflammation, Metabolic Alteration and Disease Progression. Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Nov 5;21(21):8308. doi: 10.3390/ijms21218308. PMID: 33167521; PMCID: PMC7663948. Link to article on publisher's site

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International journal of molecular sciences

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.