Adiposity is associated with an increased risk of various types of carcinoma. One of the plausible mechanisms underlying the tumor-promoting role of obesity is an aberrant secretion of adipokines, a group of hormones secreted from adipose tissue, which have exhibited both oncogenic and tumor-suppressing properties in an adipokine type- and context-dependent manner. Increasing evidence has indicated that these adipose tissue-derived hormones differentially modulate cancer cell-specific metabolism. Some adipokines, such as leptin, resistin, and visfatin, which are overproduced in obesity and widely implicated in different stages of cancer, promote cellular glucose and lipid metabolism. Conversely, adiponectin, an adipokine possessing potent anti-tumor activities, is linked to a more favorable metabolic phenotype. Adipokines may also play a pivotal role under the reciprocal regulation of metabolic rewiring of cancer cells in tumor microenvironment. Given the fact that metabolic reprogramming is one of the major hallmarks of cancer, understanding the modulatory effects of adipokines on alterations in cancer cell metabolism would provide insight into the crosstalk between obesity, adipokines, and tumorigenesis. In this review, we summarize recent insights into putative roles of adipokines as mediators of cellular metabolic rewiring in obesity-associated tumors, which plays a crucial role in determining the fate of tumor cells.
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