Relevance of leptin and other adipokines in obesity-associated cardiovascular risk
Obesity, which is a worldwide epidemic, confers increased risk for multiple serious conditions including type 2 diabetes, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and cardiovascular diseases. Adipose tissue is considered one of the largest endocrine organs in the body as well as an active tissue for cellular reactions and metabolic homeostasis rather than an inert tissue only for energy storage. The functional pleiotropism of adipose tissue relies on its ability to synthesize and release a large number of hormones, cytokines, extracellular matrix proteins, and growth and vasoactive factors, which are collectively called adipokines known to influence a variety of physiological and pathophysiological processes. In the obese state, excessive visceral fat accumulation causes adipose tissue dysfunctionality that strongly contributes to the onset of obesity-related comorbidities. The mechanisms underlying adipose tissue dysfunction include adipocyte hypertrophy and hyperplasia, increased inflammation, impaired extracellular matrix remodeling, and fibrosis together with an altered secretion of adipokines. This review describes the relevance of specific adipokines in the obesity-associated cardiovascular disease.