Adipose tissue dysfunction in cancer cachexia

Sahar Da'as, Balsam R. Rizeq, Gheyath K. Nasrallah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)


Cancer cachexia is a complex disorder that is driven by inflammation and metabolic imbalances, resulting in extreme weight loss. Adipose tissue, a main player in cancer cachexia, is an essential metabolic and secretory organ consisting of both white adipose tissue (WAT) and brown adipose tissue. Its secretory products, including adipokines and cytokines, affect a wide variety of central and peripheral organs, such as the skeletal muscle, brain, pancreas, and liver. Therefore, a combination of metabolic alterations, and systemic inflammation dysregulation of both anti-inflammatory and proinflammatory modulators contribute toward adipose tissue wasting in cancer cachexia. Growing evidence suggests that, during cancer cachexia, WAT undergoes a browning process, resulting in increased lipid mobilization and energy expenditure. In this review, we have summarized the characteristics of cancer cachexia and WAT browning. Furthermore, this review describes how adipose tissue becomes inflamed in cancer, shedding light on the combinatorial action of multiple secreted macromolecules, cytokines, hormones, and tumor mediators on adipose tissue dysfunction. We also highlight the inflammatory responses, energy utilization defects, and molecular mechanisms underlying the WAT dysfunction and browning in cancer cachexia. Further, the actual mechanisms behind the loss of adipose tissue are unknown, but have been attributed to increased adipocyte lipolysis, systemic inflammation, and apoptosis or reduced lipogenesis. The understanding of adipose tissue dysfunction in cancer cachexia will hopefully promote the development of new therapeutic approaches to prevent or treat this wasting syndrome.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cellular Physiology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2018



  • brown adipocytes
  • cancer cachexia
  • inflammation
  • WAT browning
  • white adipocytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology

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