Adipose tissue as a site of toxin accumulation

Erin Jackson, Robin Shoemaker, Nika Larian, Lisa Cassis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

123 Scopus citations


We examine the role of adipose tissue, typically considered an energy storage site, as a potential site of toxicant accumulation. Although the production of most persistent organic pollutants (POPs) was banned years ago, these toxicants persist in the environment due to their resistance to biodegradation and widespread distribution in various environmental forms (e.g., vapor, sediment, and water). As a result, human exposure to these toxicants is inevitable. Largely due to their lipophilicity, POPs bioaccumulate in adipose tissue, resulting in greater body burdens of these environmental toxicants with obesity. POPs of major concern include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and furans (PCDDs/PCDFs), and polybrominated biphenyls and diphenyl ethers (PBBs/PBDEs), among other organic compounds. In this review, we (i) highlight the physical characteristics of toxicants that enable them to partition into and remain stored in adipose tissue, (ii) discuss the specific mechanisms of action by which these toxicants act to influence adipocyte function, and (iii) review associations between POP exposures and the development of obesity and diabetes. An area of controversy relates to the relative potential beneficial versus hazardous health effects of toxicant sequestration in adipose tissue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1085-1135
Number of pages51
JournalComprehensive Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Physiological Society.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Adipose tissue as a site of toxin accumulation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this