The novel perspectives of adipokines on brain health

Thomas Ho Yin Lee, Kenneth King Yip Cheng, Ruby Lai Chong Hoo, Parco Ming Fai Siu, Suk Yu Yau

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

58 Citations (Scopus)


First seen as a fat-storage tissue, the adipose tissue is considered as a critical player in the endocrine system. Precisely, adipose tissue can produce an array of bioactive factors, including cytokines, lipids, and extracellular vesicles, which target various systemic organ systems to regulate metabolism, homeostasis, and immune response. The global effects of adipokines on metabolic events are well defined, but their impacts on brain function and pathology remain poorly defined. Receptors of adipokines are widely expressed in the brain. Mounting evidence has shown that leptin and adiponectin can cross the blood–brain barrier, while evidence for newly identified adipokines is limited. Significantly, adipocyte secretion is liable to nutritional and metabolic states, where defective circuitry, impaired neuroplasticity, and elevated neuroinflammation are symptomatic. Essentially, neurotrophic and anti-inflammatory properties of adipokines underlie their neuroprotective roles in neurodegenerative diseases. Besides, adipocyte-secreted lipids in the bloodstream can act endocrine on the distant organs. In this article, we have reviewed five adipokines (leptin, adiponectin, chemerin, apelin, visfatin) and two lipokines (palmitoleic acid and lysophosphatidic acid) on their roles involving in eating behavior, neurotrophic and neuroprotective factors in the brain. Understanding and regulating these adipokines can lead to novel therapeutic strategies to counteract metabolic associated eating disorders and neurodegenerative diseases, thus promote brain health.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5638
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2019


  • Adipokine
  • Adipose-brain axis
  • Brain health
  • Depression
  • Neurodegeneration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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