Increased oxidative stress in obesity: implications for metabolic syndrome, diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, atherosclerosis, and cancer

Obes Res Clin Pract. Sep-Oct 2013;7(5):e330-41. doi: 10.1016/j.orcp.2013.05.004.


Obesity, especially of the abdominal type, is a health problem that constitutes metabolic syndrome and increases the incidence of various diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, atherosclerosis, and cancer. Various mechanisms linking obesity to these associated diseases have been postulated. One candidate is oxidative stress, which has been implicated in vascular complications of diabetes and in pancreatic -cell failure in diabetes. Notably, obese people without diabetes also display elevated levels of systemic oxidative stress. In addition, levels of oxidative stress are increased in the adipose tissue in obese mice. Treating obese mice with antioxidant agents attenuates the development of diabetes. In 3T3-L1 adipocytes, increases in reactive oxygen species (ROS) occur with lipid accumulation; the addition of free fatty acids elevates ROS generation further. Thus, adipose tissue represents an important source of ROS; ROS may contribute to the development of obesity-associated insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Moreover, the levels of oxidative stress present in several other types of cells or tis-sues, including those in the brain, arterial walls, and tumors, have been implicated in the pathogenesis associated with hypertension, atherosclerosis, and cancer. The increased levels of systemic oxidative stress that occur in obesity may contribute to the obesity-associated development of these diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Atherosclerosis / etiology
  • Atherosclerosis / physiopathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / etiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dyslipidemias / etiology
  • Dyslipidemias / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / etiology
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Metabolic Syndrome / etiology
  • Metabolic Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism


  • Reactive Oxygen Species