Human adipose tissue levels of persistent organic pollutants and metabolic syndrome components: Combining a cross-sectional with a 10-year longitudinal study using a multi-pollutant approach.
BACKGROUND Adipose tissue (AT) is involved in several physiological functions, including metabolic regulation, energy storage, and endocrine functions. OBJECTIVES In this review we examined the evidence that an additional function of AT is to modulate persistent organic pollutant (POP) toxicity through several mechanisms. METHODS We reviewed the literature on the interaction of AT with POPs to provide a comprehensive model for this additional function of AT. DISCUSSION As a storage compartment for lipophilic POPs, AT plays a critical role in the toxicokinetics of a variety of drugs and pollutants, in particular, POPs. By sequestering POPs, AT can protect other organs and tissues from POPs overload. However, this protective function could prove to be a threat in the long run. The accumulation of lipophilic POPs will increase total body burden. These accumulated POPs are slowly released into the bloodstream, and more so during weight loss. Thus, AT constitutes a continual source of internal exposure to POPs. In addition to its buffering function, AT is also a target of POPs and may mediate part of their metabolic effects. This is particularly relevant because many POPs induce obesogenic effects that may lead to quantitative and qualitative alterations of AT. Some POPs also induce a proinflammatory state in AT, which may lead to detrimental metabolic effects. CONCLUSION AT appears to play diverse functions both as a modulator and as a target of POPs toxicity.