Endothelial dysfunction associated with obesity and the effect of weight loss interventions

Proc Nutr Soc. 2011 Nov;70(4):418-25. doi: 10.1017/S0029665111001674. Epub 2011 Aug 24.


Endothelial damage is central to the initiation and progression of atherosclerosis, while in addition vascular endothelial cells secrete several anti-atherogenic substances including the potent vasodilator nitric oxide. Increased adhesion molecule expression, in response to pathophysiological stimuli is perhaps the earliest indicator of compromised endothelial integrity. Obesity and adiposity are associated with an increased risk of CVD, influencing disease progression via a number of mechanisms, including enhanced endothelial activation. This review discusses possible mechanisms linking adiposity and more specifically regional fat depots with endothelial function and evaluates studies investigating the effect of weight loss on endothelial function, assessed by biochemical and physiological measurements. Overall, the research to date suggests that visceral adiposity is a stronger predictor of endothelial activation than overall adiposity, possibly mediated via the action of NEFA in circulation. While in general there is a suggestion that weight loss is associated with significant improvements in endothelial function, this is not apparent in all interventions and published literature to date provides less than convincing evidence for the effects of weight loss on endothelial activation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / physiology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiopathology*
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified / blood
  • Humans
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Obesity, Abdominal / blood
  • Obesity, Abdominal / complications
  • Vascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Weight Loss / physiology*


  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified