Adipokines are adipose tissue-derived factors not only playing an important role in metabolism but also influencing other central processes of the body, such as inflammation. In autoimmune diseases, adipokines are involved in inflammatory pathways affecting different cell types. Many rheumatic diseases belong to the group of autoimmune diseases, for example rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and psoriatic arthritis. Due to the autoimmune responses, a chronic inflammatory milieu develops, which affects the whole body, including adipose tissue. Metabolic alterations such as obesity influence inflammatory responses in autoimmune diseases. Adipokines are bioactive mediators mainly produced by adipose tissue. Due to alterations of systemic adipokine levels, their role as biomarkers with diagnostic potential has been suggested in the context of rheumatic diseases. In the affected joints of RA patients, different synoviocytes but also osteoclasts, osteoblasts, and chondrocytes produce several adipokines, contributing to the unique inflammatory microenvironment. Adipokines have been shown to be potent modulatory effectors on different cell types of the immune system but also local cells in synovial tissue, cartilage, and bone. This review highlights the most recent findings on the role of adipokines in the pathophysiology of inflammatory arthritis with a distinct focus on RA in the quickly developing research field.
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