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Hypertension. 2011 Jul;58(1):37-42. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.111.171322. Epub 2011 May 9.

Adipose tissue-derived soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase 1 is an obesity-relevant endogenous paracrine adipokine.

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Experimental and Clinical Research Center, Max-Delbrueck Center for Molecular Medicine, Charitè Campus Buch, Lindenbergerweg 80, 13125 Berlin, Germany.


Adipose tissue growth depends on angiogenesis. We tested the hypothesis that adipose tissue produces factors relevant to angiogenesis. We obtained fat biopsies in 2 different patient cohorts, cultured adipose-derived stem cells and studied mature adipocytes. We performed microarray, RT-PCR, and Western blotting; studied a rat obesity/metabolic syndrome model; and conducted viral gene transfer experiments in leptin-deficient mice. The microarray identified the splice variant of the vascular endothelial growth factor receptor, the soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase 1 (sFlt-1), as an antiangiogenesis candidate. We verified the expression findings and found that sFlt-1 was secreted by isolated mature human adipocytes. Tumor necrosis factor-α decreased sFlt-1 expression in mature adipocytes, whereas hypoxia had no effect. Separating cells from adipose tissue showed that the highest sFlt-1 expression was present in adipose-tissue nonfat cells rather than in the adipocytes themselves. We also found that sFlt-1 expression and sFlt-1 release by adipose-tissue explants were inversely correlated with body mass index of the corresponding patients but was directly correlated with adiponectin expression. In the obesity/metabolic syndrome rat model, we observed that circulating sFlt-1 levels and sFlt-1 expression in adipose tissue were also inversely correlated with body weight. To model our putative antiangiogenic factor further, we next overexpressed sFlt-1 by viral transfer in a mouse genetic model of leptin deficiency and observed that the transfected mice gained less weight than controls. We suggest that sFlt-1 could act as a paracrine factor inhibiting adipose tissue growth. Local sFlt-1 may regulate angiogenic potential and thereby influence adipose tissue mass.

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