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World J Cardiol. 2010 Nov 26;2(11):370-6. doi: 10.4330/wjc.v2.i11.370.

Emerging role of adipokines as mediators in atherosclerosis.

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Hanrui Zhang, Jian Cui, Cuihua Zhang, Department of Internal Medicine, Medical Pharmacology and Physiology and Nutritional Sciences, Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211, United States.


Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease is a major health problem around the world. Obesity is a primary risk factor for atherosclerosis and is associated with increased morbidity and mortality of cardiovascular diseases. However, the precise molecular pathways underlying this close association remain poorly understood. Adipokines are cytokines, chemokines and hormones secreted by adipose tissue that couple the regulation of lipid accumulation, inflammation, and atherogenesis, and therefore serve to link obesity with cardiovascular disorders. Obesity-related disorders including metabolic syndrome, diabetes, atherosclerosis, hypertension, and coronary artery disease are associated with dysregulated adipokine(s) expression. Recent studies demonstrate the proinflammatory effects as well as atherogenic properties of adipokines. Adipokines also participate in the regulation of endothelial function, which is an early event in atherosclerosis. By contrast, adiponectin, an adipocyte-derived hormone, exerts anti-inflammatory, anti-atherogenic and vascular protective effects. Furthermore, there is an interactive association among adipokines, by which adipokines reciprocally regulate each other's expression. Understanding this interplay may reveal plausible mechanisms for treating atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease by modulating adipokine(s) expression. In this review, we discuss insights into the role and the therapeutic potential of adipokines as mediators of atherosclerosis.


Adipokines; Atherosclerosis; Endothelial function; Inflammation; Obesity

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