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a term used to denote cytokines, growth factors, and other proteins produced and secreted by adipocytes. These factors are called also adipocytokines. This does not imply that expression and production of such factors is restricted to adipocytes as most of these factors are also produced by a variety of other cell types. The term often refers to leptin and adiponectin, which are secreted by the adipocytes of adipose tissue. A variety of other factors are also released by adipose tissue in vitro and in vivo and these have been termed collectively also adipokines or adipocytokines (TNF-alpha, IL6, leptin, omentin, visfatin, adipsin, resistin, apelin, RBP4).

Adipokines have endocrine, paracrine, autocrine, or juxtacrine modes of action and integrate many biological processes. Some authors use the term adipokine for any substance released by adipose tissue. These factors may not be produced by adipocytes but by nonfat cells (which may actually account for the majority of adipokine release by adipose tissue). No distinction is made also between factors released to the blood as hormones (leptin, adiponectin) and others that may act as paracrine factors the release of which may not contribute significantly to circulating levels of these factors.

Some adipokines such as adiponectin, visfatin and omentin appear to function as insulin-sensitizing adipocytokines. In contrast, TNF-alpha, IL6 and resistin induce insulin resistance.

Collectively, the many different factors secreted by adipocytes and/or released by fat tissue demonstrate that this tissue is an important endocrine and immune organ and more than a simple energy storage organ (Guzik et al, 2006; Kralisch et al, 2005; Halberg et al, 2008; Wozniak et al, 2008; Sahin-Efe et al, 2012; Falc‹o-Pires et al, 2012; Lehr et al, 2012).

The derivation of the term adipokine is similar to that of enterokine (secreted by, or acting on, cell types of the gastrointestinal tract) or gastrokine (secreted by, or acting on, stomach cells).

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