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Br J Pharmacol. 2012 Feb;165(3):643-58. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01404.x.

The role of perivascular adipose tissue in vascular smooth muscle cell growth.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai, China.


Adipose tissue is the largest endocrine organ, producing various adipokines and many other substances. Almost all blood vessels are surrounded by perivascular adipose tissue (PVAT), which has not received research attention until recently. This review will discuss the paracrine actions of PVAT on the growth of underlying vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs). PVAT can release growth factors and inhibitors. Visfatin is the first identified growth factor derived from PVAT. Decreased adiponectin and increased tumour necrosis factor-α in PVAT play a pathological role for neointimal hyperplasia after endovascular injury. PVAT-derived angiotensin II, angiotensin 1-7, reactive oxygen species, complement component 3, NO and H(2) S have a paracrine action on VSMC contraction, endothelial or fibroblast function; however, their paracrine actions on VSMC growth remain to be directly verified. Factors such as monocyte chemoattractant protein-1, interleukin-6, interleukin-8, leptin, resistin, plasminogen activator inhibitor type-1, adrenomedullin, free fatty acids, glucocorticoids and sex hormones can be released from adipose tissue and can regulate VSMC growth. Most of them have been verified for their secretion by PVAT; however, their paracrine functions are unknown. Obesity, vascular injury, aging and infection may affect PVAT, causing adipocyte abnormality and inflammatory cell infiltration, inducing imbalance of PVAT-derived growth factors and inhibitors, leading to VSMC growth and finally resulting in development of proliferative vascular disease, including atherosclerosis, restenosis and hypertension. In the future, using cell-specific gene interventions and local treatments may provide definitive evidence for identification of key factor(s) involved in PVAT dysfunction-induced vascular disease and thus may help to develop new therapies.


This article is part of a themed section on Fat and Vascular Responsiveness. To view the other articles in this section visit

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