Obesity and insulin resistance are two major risk factors for the development of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and associated cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). Cyclooxygenase (COX), a rate-limiting enzyme responsible for the biosynthesis of prostaglandins (PGs), exists in two isoforms: COX-1, the constitutive form, and COX-2, mainly the inducible form. COX-2 is the key enzyme in eicosanoid metabolism that converts eicosanoids into a number of PGs, including PGD2
, and prostacyclin (PGI2
), all of which exert diverse hormone-like effects via autocrine or paracrine mechanisms. The COX-2
gene and immunoreactive proteins have been documented to be highly expressed and elevated in adipose tissue (AT) under morbid obesity conditions. On the other hand, the environmental stress-induced expression and constitutive over-expression of COX-2 have been reported to play distinctive roles under different pathological and physiological conditions; i.e., over-expression of the COX-2
gene in white AT (WAT) has been shown to induce de novo brown AT (BAT) recruitment in WAT and then facilitate systemic energy expenditure to protect mice against high-fat diet-induced obesity. Hepatic COX-2 expression was found to protect against diet-induced steatosis, obesity, and insulin resistance. However, COX-2 activation in the epidydimal AT is strongly correlated with the development of AT inflammation, insulin resistance, and fatty liver in high-fat-diet-induced obese rats. This review will provide updated information regarding the role of COX-2-derived signals in the regulation of energy metabolism and the pathogenesis of obesity and MS.
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