Impact of the cardiovascular system-associated adipose tissue on atherosclerotic pathology


      • Cardiovascular system-associated fat plays an important role in atherosclerosis.
      • Adipose tissue is the site of chronic inflammatory process.
      • Imaging techniques to study different types of cardiac obesity.


      Cardiac obesity makes an important contribution to the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease. One of the important pathways of this contribution is the inflammatory process that takes place in the adipose tissue. In this review, we consider the role of the cardiovascular system-associated fat in atherosclerotic cardiovascular pathology and a non-atherosclerotic cause of coronary artery disease, such as atrial fibrillation.
      Cardiovascular system-associated fat not only serves as the energy store, but also releases adipokines that control local and systemic metabolism, heart/vascular function and vessel tone, and a number of vasodilating and anti-inflammatory substances. Adipokine appears to play an important protective role in cardiovascular system. Under chronic inflammation conditions, the repertoire of signaling molecules secreted by cardiac fat can be altered, leading to a higher amount of pro-inflammatory messengers, vasoconstrictors, profibrotic modulators. This further aggravates cardiovascular inflammation and leads to hypertension, induction of the pathological tissue remodeling and cardiac fibrosis. Contemporary imaging techniques showed that epicardial fat thickness correlates with the visceral fat mass, which is an established risk factor and predictor of cardiovascular disease in obese subjects. However, this correlation is no longer present after adjustment for other covariates. Nevertheless, recent studies showed that pericardial fat volume and epicardial fat thickness can probably serve as a better indicator for atrial fibrillation.


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