Molecular medicine (Cambridge, Mass.)

Potential role of leptin, adiponectin and three novel adipokines--visfatin, chemerin and vaspin--in chronic hepatitis.

PMID 21738955


Chronic hepatitis C (CHC) is generally a slowly progressive disease, but some factors associated with rapid progression have been identified. Steatosis, independently of its metabolic or viral origin, leads to liver injury and fibrosis. It is suggested that hepatitis C virus may contribute to a wide spectrum of metabolic disturbances-namely, steatosis, insulin resistance, increased prevalence of impaired glucose tolerance, type 2 diabetes mellitus and lipid metabolism abnormalities. Adipokines, which are produced mainly by adipose tissue, may influence the inflammatory response and insulin sensitivity and contribute to the development of metabolic abnormalities in CHC and also regulate fibrogenesis and angiogenesis. Visfatin was described as an adipokine with immunomodulating and proinflammatory properties that promotes B-cell maturation and enhances activation of leukocytes, synthesis of adhesion molecules and production of proinflammatory cytokines. Visfatin exerts insulin-mimetic effects, decreases plasma glucose levels and regulates cell energy balance. Chemerin stimulates chemotaxis of dendritic cells, macrophages and natural killer (NK) cells toward the site of inflammation. On the other hand, it inhibits synthesis of proinflammatory mediators and enhances adiponectin production, influences adipocyte differentiation and maturation and regulates glucose uptake in adipocytes. Vaspin expression in human adipose tissue seems to be a compensatory mechanism associated with obesity and insulin resistance. Vaspin suppresses leptin, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α and resistin expression. Leptin protects against liver steatosis but accelerates fibrosis progression and exacerbates the inflammatory process. In contrast, adiponectin exerts a hepatoprotective effect. In this report, data indicating a possible role of these adipokines in the pathogenesis of chronic hepatitis are summarized.