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Circulation. 2002 Feb 19;105(7):804-9.

Reduction of inflammatory cytokine concentrations and improvement of endothelial functions in obese women after weight loss over one year.

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  • 1Department of Geriatrics and Metabolic Diseases, Chair of Metabolic Diseases, Second University of Naples, Italy.



Visceral fat is a key regulator site for the process of inflammation, and atherosclerotic lesions are essentially an inflammatory response.


Fifty-six healthy premenopausal obese women (age range 25 to 44 years, body mass index 37.2+/-2.2, waist to hip ratio range 0.78 to 0.92) and 40 age-matched normal weight women were studied. Compared with nonobese women, obese women had increased basal concentrations of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha, P<0.01), interleukin-6 (IL-6, P<0.01), P-selectin (P<0.01), intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1, P<0.02), and vascular adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1, P<0.05). Vascular responses to L-arginine (3 g IV), the natural precursor of nitric oxide, were impaired in obese women: reductions in mean blood pressure (P<0.02), platelet aggregation to adenosine diphosphate (P<0.05), and blood viscosity (P<0.05) were significantly lower as compared with those in the nonobese group. Concentrations of TNF-alpha and IL-6 were related (P<0.01) to visceral obesity, as well as to adhesin levels and responses to L-arginine. After 1 year of a multidisciplinary program of weight reduction (diet, exercise, behavioral counseling), all obese women lost at least 10% of their original weight (9.8+/-1.5 kg, range 7.5 to 13 kg). Compared with baseline, sustained weight loss was associated with reduction of cytokine (P<0.01) and adhesin (P<0.02) concentrations and with improvement of vascular responses to L-arginine.


In obese women, endothelial activation correlates with visceral body fat, possibly through inappropriate secretion of cytokines. Weight loss represents a safe method for downregulating the inflammatory state and ameliorating endothelial dysfunction in obese women.

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