Adipose tissue as an endocrine organ: role of leptin and adiponectin in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular diseases
Obesity, the most common nutritional disorder in industrial countries, is associated with increased cardiovascular mortality and morbidity. Nevertheless, the molecular basis linking obesity with cardiovascular disturbances have not yet been fully clarified.
Recent advances in the biology of adipose tissue indicate that it is not simply an energy storage organ, but also a secretory organ, producing a variety of bioactive substances, including leptin and adiponectin, that may influence the function as well as the structural integrity of the cardiovascular system.
Leptin, besides being a satiety signal for the central nervous system and to be related to insulin and glucose metabolism, may also play an important role in regulating vascular tone because of the widespread distribution of functional receptors in the vascular cells.
On the other hand, the more recently discovered protein, adiponectin, seems to play a protective role in experimental models of vascular injury, in probable relation to its ability to suppress the attachment of monocytes to endothelial cells, which is an early event in the atherosclerotic process.
There is already considerable evidence linking altered production of some adipocyte hormones with the cardiovascular complications of obesity. Therefore, the knowledge of alterations in the endocrine function of adipose tissue may help to further understand the high cardiovascular risk associated with obesity.
CITATION J Physiol Biochem. 2003 Mar;59(1):51-60.