Adipose tissue angiogenesis: impact on obesity and type-2 diabetes

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2014 Mar;1842(3):463-72. doi: 10.1016/j.bbadis.2013.06.003. Epub 2013 Jun 12.


The growth and function of tissues are critically dependent on their vascularization. Adipose tissue is capable of expanding many-fold during adulthood, therefore requiring the formation of new vasculature to supply growing and proliferating adipocytes. The expansion of the vasculature in adipose tissue occurs through angiogenesis, where new blood vessels develop from those pre-existing within the tissue. Inappropriate angiogenesis may underlie adipose tissue dysfunction in obesity, which in turn increases type-2 diabetes risk. In addition, genetic and developmental factors involved in vascular patterning may define the size and expandability of diverse adipose tissue depots, which are also associated with type-2 diabetes risk. Moreover, the adipose tissue vasculature appears to be the niche for pre-adipocyte precursors, and factors that affect angiogenesis may directly impact the generation of new adipocytes. Here we review recent advances on the basic mechanisms of angiogenesis, and on the role of angiogenesis in adipose tissue development and obesity. A substantial amount of data points to a deficit in adipose tissue angiogenesis as a contributing factor to insulin resistance and metabolic disease in obesity. These emerging findings support the concept of the adipose tissue vasculature as a source of new targets for metabolic disease therapies. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Modulation of Adipose Tissue in Health and Disease.

Keywords: Adipocyte; Blood vessel; Capillary; Endothelial; Fat; Vascular.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / pathology
  • Adipogenesis / physiology
  • Adipose Tissue / growth & development
  • Adipose Tissue / pathology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance / genetics
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / pathology*
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Obesity / pathology*