Obesity and stroke: Can we translate from rodents to patients?

J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2016 Dec;36(12):2007-2021. doi: 10.1177/0271678X16670411. Epub 2016 Sep 21.


Obesity is a risk factor for stroke and is consequently one of the most common co-morbidities found in patients. There is therefore an identified need to model co-morbidities preclinically to allow better translation from bench to bedside. In preclinical studies, both diet-induced and genetically obese rodents have worse stroke outcome, characterised by increased ischaemic damage and an altered inflammatory response. However, clinical studies have reported an 'obesity paradox' in stroke, characterised by reduced mortality and morbidity in obese patients. We discuss the potential reasons why the preclinical and clinical studies may not agree, and review the mechanisms identified in preclinical studies through which obesity may affects stroke outcome. We suggest inflammation plays a central role in this relationship, as obesity features increases in inflammatory mediators such as C-reactive protein and interleukin-6, and chronic inflammation has been linked to worse stroke risk and outcome.

Keywords: Obesity; adiposity; blood–brain barrier; inflammation; stroke.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / complications
  • Obesity / mortality*
  • Rodentia
  • Stroke / etiology
  • Stroke / mortality*
  • Translational Medical Research / standards*