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Br J Pharmacol. 2017 Oct;174(20):3466-3481. doi: 10.1111/bph.13732. Epub 2017 Mar 16.

Exercise effects on perivascular adipose tissue: endocrine and paracrine determinants of vascular function.

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Department of Physiology, VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Laboratory for Clinical and Experimental Research on Vascular Biology (BioVasc), Biomedical Center, State University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Department of Medicine, University College London, London, UK.


Obesity is a global epidemic, accompanied by increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Adipose tissue hypertrophy is associated with adipose tissue inflammation, which alters the secretion of adipose tissue-derived bioactive products, known as adipokines. Adipokines determine vessel wall properties such as smooth muscle tone and vessel wall inflammation. Exercise is a mainstay of prevention of chronic, non-communicable diseases, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in particular. Aside from reducing adipose tissue mass, exercise has been shown to reduce inflammatory activity in this tissue. Mechanistically, contracting muscles release bioactive molecules known as myokines, which alter the metabolic phenotype of adipose tissue. In adipose tissue, myokines induce browning, enhance fatty acid oxidation and improve insulin sensitivity. In the past years, the perivascular adipose tissue (PVAT) which surrounds the vasculature, has been shown to control vascular tone and inflammation through local release of adipokines. In obesity, an increase in mass and inflammation of PVAT culminate in dysregulation of adipokine secretion, which contributes to vascular dysfunction. This review describes our current understanding of the mechanisms by which active muscles interact with adipose tissue and improve vascular function. Aside from the exercise-dependent regulation of canonical adipose tissue function, we will focus on the interactions between skeletal muscle and PVAT and the role of novel myokines, such as IL-15, FGF21 and irisin, in these interactions.


This article is part of a themed section on Molecular Mechanisms Regulating Perivascular Adipose Tissue - Potential Pharmacological Targets? To view the other articles in this section visit

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