Metabolic disturbances in white adipose tissue in obese individuals contribute to the pathogenesis of insulin resistance and the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Impaired insulin action in adipocytes is associated with elevated lipolysis and increased free fatty acids leading to ectopic fat deposition in liver and skeletal muscle. Chronic adipose tissue hypoxia has been suggested to be part of pathomechanisms causing dysfunction of adipocytes. Hypoxia can provoke oxidative stress in human and animal adipocytes and reduce the production of beneficial adipokines, such as adiponectin. However, time-dose responses to hypoxia relativize the effects of hypoxic stress. Long-term exposure of fat cells to hypoxia can lead to the production of beneficial substances such as leptin. Knowledge of time-dose responses of hypoxia on white adipose tissue and the time course of generation of oxidative stress in adipocytes is still scarce. This paper reviews the potential links between adipose tissue hypoxia, oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, and low-grade inflammation caused by adipocyte hypertrophy, macrophage infiltration and production of inflammatory mediators.
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