Energy intake and expenditure tend on average to remain adjusted to each other in order to maintain a stable body weight, which is only likely to be sustained if the fuel mix oxidised is equivalent to the nutrient content of the diet. Whereas protein and carbohydrate degradation and oxidation are closely adjusted to their intakes, fat balance regulation is less precise and that fat is more likely to be stored than oxidised.
It has been demonstrated that dietary fatty acids have an influence not only on the fatty acid composition of membrane phospholipids, thus modulating several metabolic processes that take place in the adipocyte, but also on the composition and the quantity of different fatty acids in adipose tissue. Moreover, dietary fatty acids also modulate eicosanoid presence, which have hormone-like activities in lipid metabolism regulation in adipose tissue.
Until recently, the adipocyte has been considered to be no more than a passive tissue for storage of excess energy. However, there is now compelling evidence that adipocytes have a role as endocrine secretory cells. Some of the adipokines produced by adipose tissue, such as leptin and adiponectin, act on adipose tissue in an autocrine/paracrine manner to regulate adipocyte metabolism. Furthermore, dietary fatty acids may influence the expression of adipokines.
The nutrients are among the most influential of the environmental factors that determine the way adipose tissue genes are expressed by functioning as regulators of gene transcription. Therefore, not only dietary fat amount but also dietary fat composition influence adipose tissue metabolism.