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International Journal of Endocrinology
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 614074, 8 pages
Review Article

Adipose Tissue and Adrenal Glands: Novel Pathophysiological Mechanisms and Clinical Applications

Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Department of Medicine, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL 33136, USA

Received 30 April 2014; Accepted 24 May 2014; Published 11 June 2014

Academic Editor: Claudio Letizia

Copyright © 2014 Atil Y. Kargi and Gianluca Iacobellis. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Hormones produced by the adrenal glands and adipose tissues have important roles in normal physiology and are altered in many disease states. Obesity is associated with changes in adrenal function, including increase in adrenal medullary catecholamine output, alterations of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, elevations in circulating aldosterone together with changes in adipose tissue glucocorticoid metabolism, and enhanced adipocyte mineralocorticoid receptor activity. It is unknown whether these changes in adrenal endocrine function are in part responsible for the pathogenesis of obesity and related comorbidities or represent an adaptive response. In turn, adipose tissue hormones or “adipokines” have direct effects on the adrenal glands and interact with adrenal hormones at several levels. Here we review the emerging evidence supporting the existence of “cross talk” between the adrenal gland and adipose tissue, focusing on the relevance and roles of their respective hormones in health and disease states including obesity, metabolic syndrome, and primary disorders of the adrenals.