New insights into the role of adipose tissue in thrombosis

Cardiovasc Res. 2017 Jul 1;113(9):1046-1054. doi: 10.1093/cvr/cvx086.


Central obesity is independently associated with an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease, particularly thrombotic complications. Increasing data supports a link between excess body weight and the risk to suffer acute myocardial infarction, stent thrombosis after percutaneous interventions, ischemic stroke and vein thrombosis. Experimental and in vitro data have provided insights as to the mechanisms currently presumed to increase the thrombotic risk in obese subjects. Obesity is characterized by a chronic low grade inflammation and systemic oxidative stress that eventually damage the endothelium losing its antithrombotic properties. Obesity also stimulates the expression of leptin and attenuates adiponectin release, a protective adipokine. Although the contribution of adipokines to thrombosis has been questioned, recent work has suggested that they enhance platelet activation and, although to a lesser extent, induce the coagulation cascade through tissue factor (TF) expression. Increased body weight also impairs platelet sensitivity to insulin signaling and enhances the production of bioactive isoprostanes further promoting platelet reactivity. Finally, obese subjects have shown elevated circulating levels of von Willebrand factor, TF, factor VII and VIII, and fibrinogen, favoring a mild-to-moderate hypercoagulable state, and, on the other hand, increased secretion of plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI)-1 and thrombin activatable fibrinolysis inhibitor (TAFI) contributing to impair the fibrinolytic system. In the present review, we provide an overview of the impact of excess body weight on thrombosis. We will focus on the link between dysfunctional adipose tissue and endothelial damage, platelet reactivity, enhanced coagulation and impaired fibrinolysis; mechanisms currently recognized to increase arterial thrombotic risk in obese subjects.

Keywords: Coagulation; Fibrinolysis; Obesity; Platelet function; Thrombosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipokines / blood
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Adipose Tissue / physiopathology
  • Adiposity
  • Animals
  • Blood Coagulation Factors / metabolism
  • Blood Coagulation*
  • Blood Platelets / metabolism
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Obesity, Abdominal / blood*
  • Obesity, Abdominal / epidemiology
  • Obesity, Abdominal / physiopathology
  • Risk Factors
  • Signal Transduction
  • Thrombosis / blood*
  • Thrombosis / epidemiology
  • Thrombosis / physiopathology


  • Adipokines
  • Blood Coagulation Factors