The current epidemic of obesity with the associated increasing incidence of insulin resistance, diabetes mellitus and atherosclerosis affecting a large proportion of the North American and Western populations, has generated a strong interest in the potential role of visceral adipose tissue in the development of atherosclerosis and its complications. The intra-abdominal and epicardial space are two compartments that contain visceral adipose tissue with a similar embryological origin. These visceral fats are highly inflamed in obese patients, patients with the metabolic syndrome and in those with established coronary artery disease; additionally they are capable of secreting large quantities of pro-inflammatory cytokines and free fatty acids. There is accumulating evidence to support a direct involvement of these regional adipose tissue deposits in the development of atherosclerosis and its complicating events, as will be reviewed in this article.
Keywords: Atherosclerosis; Coronary artery disease; Visceral adipose tissue.
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