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Leptin and Adiponectin: new players in the field of tumor cell and leukocyte migration

Kerstin Lang* and Janina Ratke

Author Affiliations

Institute of Immunology, Witten/Herdecke University, Stockumer Str. 10, 58448 Witten, Germany

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Cell Communication and Signaling 2009, 7:27  doi:10.1186/1478-811X-7-27

Published: 23 December 2009


Adipose tissue is no longer considered to be solely an energy storage, but exerts important endocrine functions, which are primarily mediated by a network of various soluble factors derived from fat cells, called adipocytokines. In addition to their responsibility to influence energy homeostasis, new studies have identified important pathways linking metabolism with the immune system, and demonstrating a modulatory role of adipocytokines in immune function. Additionally, epidemiological studies underline that obesity represents a significant risk factor for the development of cancer, although the exact mechanism of this relationship remains to be determined. Whereas a possible influence of adipocytokines on the proliferation of tumor cells is already known, new evidence has come to light elucidating a modulatory role of this signaling substances in the regulation of migration of leukocytes and tumor cells. The migration of leukocytes is a key feature to fight cancer cells, whereas the locomotion of tumor cells is a prerequisite for tumor formation and metastasis. We herein review the latest tumor biological findings on the role of the most prominent adipocytokines leptin and adiponectin, which are secreted by fat cells, and which are involved in leukocyte migration, tumor growth, invasion and metastasis. This review thus accentuates the complex, interactive involvement of adipocytokines in the regulation of migration of both leukocytes and tumor cells, and gives an insight in the underlying molecular mechanisms.