Affiliation: Istituto di Endocrinologia e Oncologia Sperimentale", Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Napoli, Italy.
The white adipose tissue (WAT) represents the most important structure of the organism able to provide energy stores and heat insulation. Recently, its has been postulated that the adipose tissue can be considered as a complex, essential, and highly active metabolic and endocrine organ. Indeed, it is able to respond to different signals from the endocrine organs and from the nervous the immune systems. More recently, the adipose tissue has also been hypothesised to represent an "extension" of the immune system, for its capacity to contain immune cells, lymph nodes, thymus, but above all, for its ability to produce a series of cytokines and chemokines typical of the immune system (generally named adipokines). A better understanding of the immune and endocrine function of the adipose tissue will lead to the development of innovative therapeutic strategies in inflammatory disorders.