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Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2011 Jan;38(1):1-10. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1681.2010.05460.x.

Obesity, metabolic syndrome, adipocytes and vascular function: A holistic viewpoint.

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1
International Medical University, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Abstract

1. Obesity is a metabolic disease of pandemic proportions largely arising from positive energy balance, a consequence of sedentary lifestyle, conditioned by environmental and genetic factors. Several central and peripheral neurohumoral factors (the major ones being the anorectic adipokines leptin and adiponecin and the orexigenic gut hormone ghrelin) acting on the anorectic (pro-opiomelanocortin and cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript) and orexigenic (neuropeptide Y and agouti gene-related protein) neurons regulate energy balance. These neurons, mainly in the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus, project to parts of the brain modulating functions such as wakefulness, autonomic function and learning. A tilt in the anorectic-orexigenic balance, perhaps determined genetically, leads to obesity. 2. Excess fat deposition requires space, created by adipocyte (hypertrophy and hyperplasia) and extracellular matrix (ECM) remodelling. This process is regulated by several factors, including several adipocyte-derived Matrix metalloproteinases and the adipokine cathepsin, which degrades fibronectin, a key ECM protein. Excess fat, also deposited in visceral organs, generates chronic low-grade inflammation that eventually triggers insulin resistance and the associated comorbidities of metabolic syndrome (hypertension, atherosclerosis, dyslipidaemia and diabetes mellitus). 3. The perivascular adipose tissue (PVAT) has conventionally been considered non-physiological structural tissue, but has recently been shown to serve a paracrine function, including the release of adipose-derived relaxant and contractile factors, akin to the role of the vascular endothelium. Thus, PVAT regulates vascular function in vivo and in vitro, contributing to the cardiovascular pathophysiology of the metabolic syndrome. Defining the mechanism of PVAT regulation of vascular reactivity requires more and better controlled investigations than currently seen in the literature.

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