The adipose tissue serves an essential role for survival and reproduction in mammals, especially females. It serves primarily as an energy storage organ and is directly linked to the reproductive success of mammals. In wild animals, adipose tissue function is linked to seasonality of the food supply to support fetal growth and milk production. Adipose tissue depots in ruminants and non-ruminants can secrete many signal molecules (adipokines) that act as hormones and as pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines. The visceral adipose tissue especially appears to be more endocrinologically active than other adipose depots. The endocrine function is important for the overall long-term regulation of energy metabolism and plays an important role in the adaptation to lactation in many mammalian species, including humans. Furthermore, endocrine signals from adipose tissue depots contribute to fertility modulation, immune function, and inflammatory response. Energy homeostasis is modulated by changes in feed intake, insulin sensitivity, and energy expenditure, processes that can be influenced by adipokines in the brain and in peripheral tissues.


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