Roles of oxidative stress, adiponectin, and nuclear hormone receptors in obesity-associated insulin resistance and cardiovascular risk

Horm Mol Biol Clin Investig. 2014 Aug;19(2):75-88. doi: 10.1515/hmbci-2014-0001.


Obesity leads to the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus, which is a strong risk factor for cardiovascular disease. A better understanding of the molecular basis of obesity will lead to the establishment of effective prevention strategies for cardiovascular diseases. Adipocytes have been shown to generate a variety of endocrine factors termed adipokines/adipocytokines. Obesity-associated changes to these adipocytokines contribute to the development of cardiovascular diseases. Adiponectin, which is one of the most well-characterized adipocytokines, is produced exclusively by adipocytes and exerts insulin-sensitizing and anti-atherogenic effects. Obese subjects have lower levels of circulating adiponectin, and this is recognized as one of the factors involved in obesity-induced insulin resistance and atherosclerosis. Another pathophysiological feature of obesity may involve the low-grade chronic inflammation in adipose tissue. This inflammatory process increases oxidative stress in adipose tissue, which may affect remote organs, leading to the development of diabetes, hypertension, and atherosclerosis. Nuclear hormone receptors (NRs) regulate the transcription of the target genes in response to binding with their ligands, which include metabolic and nutritional substrates. Among the various NRs, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ promotes the transcription of adiponectin and antioxidative enzymes, whereas mineralocorticoid receptor mediates the effects of aldosterone and glucocorticoid to induce oxidative stress in adipocytes. It is hypothesized that both play crucial roles in the pathophysiology of obesity-associated insulin resistance and cardiovascular diseases. Thus, reduced adiponectin and increased oxidative stress play pathological roles in obesity-associated insulin resistance to increase the cardiovascular disease risk, and various NRs may be involved in this pathogenesis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adiponectin / metabolism*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / metabolism*
  • Risk Factors


  • Adiponectin
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear