Adipose tissue is an endocrine organ, capable of regulating distant physiological processes in other tissues via the release of adipokines into the bloodstream. Recently, circulating adipose-derived microRNAs (miRNAs) have been proposed as a novel class of adipokine, due to their capacity to regulate gene expression in tissues other than fat. Circulating levels of adipokines are known to be altered in obese individuals compared with typical weight individuals and are linked to poorer health outcomes. For example, obese individuals are known to be more prone to the development of some cancers, and less likely to achieve event-free survival following chemotherapy. The purpose of this review was twofold; first to identify circulating miRNAs which are reproducibly altered in obesity, and secondly to identify mechanisms by which these obesity-linked miRNAs might influence the sensitivity of tumors to treatment. We identified 8 candidate circulating miRNAs with altered levels in obese individuals (6 increased, 2 decreased). A second literature review was then performed to investigate if these candidates might have a role in mediating resistance to cancer treatment. All of the circulating miRNAs identified were capable of mediating responses to cancer treatment at the cellular level, and so this review provides novel insights which can be used by future studies which aim to improve obese patient outcomes.
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