Ectopic fat and cardiovascular disease: what is the link?

Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2010 Sep;20(7):481-90. doi: 10.1016/j.numecd.2010.05.005. Epub 2010 Jul 24.


Aim: of this paper is to review the recent literature on the relationship between ectopic fat accumulation and cardiovascular disease.

Data synthesis: Ectopic fat is an important predictor of metabolic (in particular insulin resistance) and cardiovascular disease, carrying more risk than general fat accumulation. Recent studies have shown a link between ectopic fat accumulation, as cardiac (epicardial or intra-myocardial fat) and/or visceral and/or hepatic fat, and development of atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease and hypertension.

Conclusions: Ectopic fat accumulation is not only a marker of cardiometabolic disease, since through the release of adipocitokines, lipotoxic and glucotoxic agents, participates in the crosstalk with insulin-sensitive organs leading to metabolic, cardiac and vascular dysfunctions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Adipose Tissue / physiopathology*
  • Adiposity*
  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / metabolism
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Humans
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Signal Transduction


  • Biomarkers