The increasing prevalence of diabetes and its complications heralds an alarming situation worldwide. Obesity-associated changes in circulating adiponectin concentrations have the capacity to predict insulin sensitivity and are a link between obesity and a number of vascular diseases. One obvious consequence of obesity is a decrease in circulating levels of adiponectin, which are associated with cardiovascular disorders and associated vascular comorbidities. Human and animal studies have demonstrated decreased adiponectin to be an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease. However, in animal studies, increased circulating adiponectin alleviates obesity-induced endothelial dysfunction and hypertension, and also prevents atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, and diabetic cardiac tissue disorders. Further, metabolism of a number of foods and medications are affected by induction of adiponectin. Adiponectin has beneficial effects on cardiovascular cells via its antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiapoptotic, antiatherogenic, vasodilatory, and antithrombotic activity, and consequently has a favorable effect on cardiac and vascular health. Understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying the regulation of adiponectin secretion and signaling is critical for designing new therapeutic strategies. This review summarizes the recent evidence for the physiological role and clinical significance of adiponectin in vascular health, identification of the receptor and post-receptor signaling events related to the protective effects of the adiponectin system on vascular compartments, and its potential use as a target for therapeutic intervention in vascular disease.
Keywords: adiponectin; obesity; vascular disease.