Visceral adipose tissue as a source of inflammation and promoter of atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis. 2014 Mar;233(1):104-12. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2013.12.023. Epub 2014 Jan 7.


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.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Atherosclerosis / etiology*
  • Atherosclerosis / physiopathology
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / etiology
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / metabolism*
  • Pericardium / anatomy & histology


  • Cytokines
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified