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Adipocytes play important roles in lipid storage, energy homeostasis and whole body insulin sensitivity. The JAK-STAT (Janus Kinase-Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription) pathway mediates a variety of physiological processes including development, hematopoiesis, and inflammation. Although the JAK-STAT signaling pathway occurs in all cells, this pathway can mediate cell specific responses. Studies in the last two decades have identified hormones and cytokines that activate the JAK-STAT signaling pathway. These cytokines and hormones have profound effects on adipocytes. The content of this review will introduce the types of adipocytes and immune cells that make up adipose tissue, the impact of obesity on adipose cellular composition and function, and the general constituents of the JAK-STAT pathway and how its activators regulate adipose tissue development and physiology. A summary of the identification of STAT target genes in adipocytes reveals how these transcription factors impact various areas of adipocyte metabolism including insulin action, modulation of lipid stores, and glucose homeostasis. Lastly, we will evaluate exciting new data linking the JAK-STAT pathway and brown adipose tissue and consider the future outlook in this area of investigation. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Modulation of Adipose Tissue in Health and Disease. © 2013 The Authors.

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Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Basis of Disease

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