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Ectopic fat: the true culprit linking obesity and cardiovascular disease?

Journal: Thrombosis and Haemostasis
ISSN: 0340-6245
Topic:

Theme Issue
Obesity and vascular disease

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1160/TH13-04-0285
Issue: 2013: 110/4 (Oct) pp. 623-856
Pages: 651-660

Ectopic fat: the true culprit linking obesity and cardiovascular disease?

M. Morelli (1, 2), M. Gaggini (1, 3), G. Daniele (4, 5), P. Marraccini (1), R. Sicari (1), A. Gastaldelli (1, 5)

(1) Institute of Clinical Physiology - CNR, Pisa, Italy; (2) University of Milano, Milan, Italy; (3) Department of Surgery, University of Pisa, Italy; (4) Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, University of Pisa, Italy; (5) Division of Diabetes, University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio, Texas, USA

Summary

Obesity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and its complications. However, not all fat depots share the same characteristics. Recent studies have found that ectopic rather than subcutaneous fat accumulation is associated with increased cardiometabolic risk. However, ectopic fat accumulation can be seen initially as a protective mechanism against lipotoxicity. Subsequently the adipose tissue becomes dysfunctional, thus inducing systemic metabolic alterations (through release of cytokines) or specific organ dysfunctions. The purpose of this review is to summarise the current available data on the impact of excess adiposity vs ectopic fat in the development of cardio-metabolic diseases.