A Burning Question

Does an Adipokine-Induced Activation of the Immune System Mediate the Effect of Overnutrition on Type 2 Diabetes?

  1. Pietro A. Tataranni and
  2. Emilio Ortega
  1. Obesity and Diabetes Clinical Research Section, Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Phoenix, Arizona
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Pietro A. Tataranni, MD, Senior Medical Director, Sanofi Aventis, 42-50 Quai de la Rapee, 75601 Paris Cedex 12. E-mail: antonio.tataranni{at}sanofi-aventis.com


There is growing support for the hypothesis that obesity is an inflammatory condition leading to chronic activation of the innate immune system, which ultimately causes progressive impairment of glucose tolerance. Experimental studies in animals and evidence from prospective and longitudinal studies in humans are consistent with an etiologic role of subclinical inflammation in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes, primarily as a mediator of obesity-induced insulin resistance. However, the exact chain of molecular events linking overnutrition, activation of the innate immune system, and impairment of insulin signaling in peripheral tissues remains incompletely understood. Notwithstanding this limitation, treating the underlying subclinical inflammation may constitute a novel approach to prevention and/or treatment of type 2 diabetes.


  • P.A.T. is currently affiliated with Sanofi Aventis, Paris, France.

    • Accepted December 9, 2004.
    • Received October 15, 2004.
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