Heart and Circulatory Physiology

Inflammation and metabolic dysfunction: links to cardiovascular diseases

Annika Taube, Raphaela Schlich, Henrike Sell, Kristin Eckardt, Juergen Eckel


Abdominal obesity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and recent studies highlight a key role of adipose tissue dysfunction, inflammation, and aberrant adipokine release in this process. An increased demand for lipid storage results in both hyperplasia and hypertrophy, finally leading to chronic inflammation, hypoxia, and a phenotypic change of the cellular components of adipose tissue, collectively leading to a substantially altered secretory output of adipose tissue. In this review we have assessed the adipo-vascular axis, and an overview of adipokines associated with cardiovascular disease is provided. This resulted in a first list of more than 30 adipokines. A deeper analysis only considered adipokines that have been reported to impact on inflammation and NF-κB activation in the vasculature. Out of these, the most prominent link to cardiovascular disease was found for leptin, TNF-α, adipocyte fatty acid-binding protein, interleukins, and several novel adipokines such as lipocalin-2 and pigment epithelium-derived factor. Future work will need to address the potential role of these molecules as biomarkers and/or drug targets.

  • adipokines
  • adipose tissue
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