Adipose Tissue and Ceramide Biosynthesis in the Pathogenesis of Obesity

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Abstract

Although obesity is a complex metabolic disorder often associated with insulin resistance, hyperinsulinemia and Type 2 diabetes, as well as with accelerated atherosclerosis, the molecular changes in obesity that promote these disorders are not completely understood. Several mechanisms have been proposed to explain how increased adipose tissue mass affects whole body insulin resistance and cardiovascular risk. One theory is that increased adipose derived inflammatory cytokines induces a chronic inflammatory state that not only increases cardiovascular risk, but also antagonizes insulin signaling and mitochondrial function and thereby impair glucose hemostasis. Another suggests that lipid accumulation in nonadipose tissues not suited for fat storage leads to the buildup of bioactive lipids that inhibit insulin signaling and metabolism. Recent evidence demonstrates that sphingolipid metabolism is dysregulated in obesity and specific sphingolipids may provide a common pathway that link excess nutrients and inflammation to increased metabolic and cardiovascular risk. This chapter will focus primarily on the expression and regulation of adipose and plasma ceramide biosynthesis in obesity and, its potential contribution to the pathogenesis of obesity and the metabolic syndrome.