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Accumulating knowledge on the biology and function of the adipose tissue has led to a major shift in our understanding of its role in health and disease. The adipose tissue is now recognized as a crucial regulator of cardiovascular health, mediated by the secretion of several bioactive products, including adipocytokines, microvesicles and gaseous messengers, with a wide range of endocrine and paracrine effects on the cardiovascular system. The adipose tissue function and secretome are tightly controlled by complex homeostatic mechanisms and local cell-cell interactions, which can become dysregulated in obesity. Systemic or local inflammation and insulin resistance lead to a shift in the adipose tissue secretome from anti-inflammatory and anti-atherogenic towards a pro-inflammatory and pro-atherogenic profile. Moreover, the interplay between the adipose tissue and the cardiovascular system is bidirectional, with vascular-derived and heart-derived signals directly affecting adipose tissue biology. In this Review, we summarize the current knowledge of the biology and regional variability of adipose tissue in humans, deciphering the complex molecular mechanisms controlling the crosstalk between the adipose tissue and the cardiovascular system, and their possible clinical translation. In addition, we highlight the latest developments in adipose tissue imaging for cardiovascular risk stratification and discuss how therapeutic targeting of the adipose tissue can improve prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat Rev Cardiol

Publication Date





83 - 99


Adipose Tissue, Cardiovascular Diseases, Cardiovascular System, Humans