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Ann Med. 2012 May;44(3):233-41. doi: 10.3109/07853890.2011.564202. Epub 2011 May 25.

Visceral adiposity as a target for the management of the metabolic syndrome.

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Department of Metabolic Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka University, Japan.


Atherosclerosis, the underlying cause of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ACVD), develops due not only to a single cardiovascular risk factor but to a variety of complex factors. The concept of the multiple cardiometabolic risk factor clustering syndrome has been proposed as a highly atherogenic state, independent of hypercholesterolemia and smoking. Body fat distribution, especially visceral fat accumulation, is a major correlate of a cluster of diabetogenic, atherogenic, prothrombotic, and proinflammatory metabolic abnormalities referred to as the metabolic syndrome, with dysfunctional adipocytes and dysregulated production of adipocytokines (hypoadiponectinemia). Medical research has focused on visceral adiposity as an important component of the syndrome in Japanese subjects with a mild degree of adiposity compared with Western subjects. For the prevention of ACVD at least in Japan, it might be practical to stratify subjects with multiple risk factors for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease based on visceral fat accumulation. Visceral fat reduction through health promotion programs using risk factor-oriented approaches may be effective in reducing ACVD events, as well as producing improvement in risks and hypoadiponectinemia. This review article discusses visceral adiposity as a key player in the syndrome. Visceral fat reduction with life-style modification is a potentially useful strategy in the prevention of ACVD in patients with the metabolic syndrome.

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