TWEAK: A New Player in Obesity and Diabetes

Joan Vendrell, Matilde R Chacón
Frontiers in Immunology 2013, 4: 488
Obesity and type 2 diabetes (T2D) are associated with chronic low-grade inflammation. Mounting evidence suggests the involvement of an inflammatory switch in adipose tissue, both in mature adipocytes and immune-competent cells from the stromal vascular compartment, in the progression of obesity and insulin resistance. Several inflammatory cytokines secreted by obese adipose tissue, including TNFα and IL-6 have been described as hallmark molecules involved in this process, impairing insulin signaling in insulin-responsive organs. An increasing number of new molecules affecting the local and systemic inflammatory imbalance in obesity and T2D have been identified. In this complex condition, some molecules may exhibit opposing actions, depending on the cell type and on systemic or local influences. Tumor necrosis factor weak inducer of apoptosis (TWEAK), a cytokine of the tumor necrosis (TNF) superfamily, is gaining attention as an important player in chronic inflammatory diseases. TWEAK can exist as a full-length membrane-associated (mTWEAK) form and as a soluble (sTWEAK) form and, by acting through its cognate receptor Fn14, can control many cellular activities including proliferation, migration, differentiation, apoptosis, angiogenesis, and inflammation. Notably, sTWEAK has been proposed as a biomarker of cardiovascular diseases. Here, we will review the recent findings relating to TWEAK and its receptor within the context of obesity and the associated disorder T2D.

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