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Renata Risi Department of Experimental Medicine, Sapienza University of Rome, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy
University of Cambridge Metabolic Research Laboratories, Wellcome Trust-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science, Cambridge, UK

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Antonio Vidal-Puig University of Cambridge Metabolic Research Laboratories, Wellcome Trust-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science, Cambridge, UK
Cambridge University Nanjing Centre of Technology and Innovation, Nanjing, P. R. China
Centro de Investigacion Principe Felipe, Valencia, Spain

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Guillaume Bidault University of Cambridge Metabolic Research Laboratories, Wellcome Trust-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science, Cambridge, UK

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Obesity and diabetes represent two increasing and invalidating public health issues that often coexist. It is acknowledged that fat mass excess predisposes to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D), with the increasing incidence of the two diseases significantly associated. Moreover, emerging evidence suggests that obesity might also accelerate the appearance of type 1 diabetes (T1D), which is now a relatively frequent comorbidity in patients with obesity. It is a common clinical finding that not all patients with obesity will develop diabetes at the same level of adiposity, with gender, genetic, and ethnic factors playing an important role in defining the timing of diabetes appearance. The adipose tissue (AT) expandability hypothesis explains this paradigm, indicating that the individual capacity to appropriately store energy surplus in the form of fat within the AT determines and prevents the toxic deposition of lipids in other organs, such as the pancreas. Thus, we posit that when the maximal storing capacity of AT is exceeded, individuals will develop T2D. In this review, we provide insight into mechanisms by which the AT controls pancreas lipid content and homeostasis in case of obesity to offer an adipocentric perspective of pancreatic lipotoxicity in the pathogenesis of diabetes. Moreover, we suggest that improving AT function is a valid therapeutic approach to fighting obesity-associated complications including diabetes.

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