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Regulation of vascular tone by adipocytes

Nele Maenhaut and Johan Van de Voorde*

Author affiliations

Department of Pharmacology, Ghent University, De Pintelaan 185-Blok B, 2nd floor, BE-9000 Ghent, Belgium

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Citation and License

BMC Medicine 2011, 9:25  doi:10.1186/1741-7015-9-25

Published: 16 March 2011

Abstract

Recent studies have shown that adipose tissue is an active endocrine and paracrine organ secreting several mediators called adipokines. Adipokines include hormones, inflammatory cytokines and other proteins. In obesity, adipose tissue becomes dysfunctional, resulting in an overproduction of proinflammatory adipokines and a lower production of anti-inflammatory adipokines. The pathological accumulation of dysfunctional adipose tissue that characterizes obesity is a major risk factor for many other diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and hypertension. Multiple physiological roles have been assigned to adipokines, including the regulation of vascular tone. For example, the unidentified adipocyte-derived relaxing factor (ADRF) released from adipose tissue has been shown to relax arteries. Besides ADRF, other adipokines such as adiponectin, omentin and visfatin are vasorelaxants. On the other hand, angiotensin II and resistin are vasoconstrictors released by adipocytes. Reactive oxygen species, leptin, tumour necrosis factor α, interleukin-6 and apelin share both vasorelaxing and constricting properties. Dysregulated synthesis of the vasoactive and proinflammatory adipokines may underlie the compromised vascular reactivity in obesity and obesity-related disorders.