The renin-angiotensin system (RAS) is classically known for its role in regulation of blood pressure, fluid and electrolyte balance. Recently, several local RASs in organs such as brain, heart, pancreas and adipose tissue have also been identified. Evidence from clinical trials suggests that in addition to anti-hypertensive effects, pharmacological inhibition of RAS also provides protection against the development of type-2 diabetes. Moreover, animal models with targeted inactivation of RAS genes exhibit improved insulin sensitivity and are protected from high-fat diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance. Because there is evidence for RAS overactivation in obesity, it is possible that RAS is a link between obesity and insulin resistance. This review summarizes the evidence and mechanistic insights on the associations between RAS, obesity and insulin resistance, with special emphasis on the role of adipose tissue RAS in the pathogenesis of metabolic derangements in obesity.
© 2011 The Authors. obesity reviews © 2011 International Association for the Study of Obesity.