Objectives: To discuss present knowledge about the relation between adipose tissue, inflammation and the Mediterranean-style diet.
Design: Review of the literature and personal perspectives.
Setting and results: Recent studies indicate that adipose tissue is an endocrine organ producing numerous proteins, collectively referred to as adipokines, with broad biological activity, which play an important autocrine role in obesity-associated complications. Adipose tissue in general and visceral fat in particular are thought to be key regulators of inflammation which is heavily involved in the onset and development of atherothrombotic disease. Moreover, chronic inflammation may also represent a triggering factor in the origin of the metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes mellitus. An increased release of proinflammatory adipokines from the visceral adipose tissue, associated with a reduced secretion of anti-inflammatory adipokines and cytokines, could determine a low-grade chronic inflammatory state which might play a role in the future development of the metabolic syndrome, diabetes and atherosclerosis through both insulin resistance and endothelial dysfunction. Interventions aimed at decreasing weight loss and improving adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet in people with obesity or metabolic syndrome decrease the inflammatory milieu and ameliorate both insulin resistance and endothelial dysfunction.
Conclusions: Appropriate dietary patterns, as those associated with the eating model of Mediterranean-type diets, represent therapeutic strategies to reduce inflammation and the associated metabolic and cardiovascular risk.