Adipose Tissue and Biological Factors. Possible Link between Lymphatic System Dysfunction and Obesity

Metabolites. 2021 Sep 11;11(9):617. doi: 10.3390/metabo11090617.


The World Health Organization (WHO) has recognised obesity as one of the top ten threats to human health. Obesity is not only a state of abnormally increased adipose tissue in the body, but also of an increased release of biologically active metabolites. Moreover, obesity predisposes the development of metabolic syndrome and increases the incidence of type 2 diabetes (T2DM), increases the risk of developing insulin resistance, atherosclerosis, ischemic heart disease, polycystic ovary syndrome, hypertension and cancer. The lymphatic system is a one-directional network of thin-walled capillaries and larger vessels covered by a continuous layer of endothelial cells that provides a unidirectional conduit to return filtered arterial and tissue metabolites towards the venous circulation. Recent studies have shown that obesity can markedly impair lymphatic function. Conversely, dysfunction in the lymphatic system may also be involved in the pathogenesis of obesity. This review highlights the important findings regarding obesity related to lymphatic system dysfunction, including clinical implications and experimental studies. Moreover, we present the role of biological factors in the pathophysiology of the lymphatic system and we propose the possibility of a therapy supporting the function of the lymphatic system in the course of obesity.

Keywords: adipose tissue; biological factors; lymph-angiogenesis; lymphatic contractile and lymphatic vascular permeability; manual lymphatic drainage; obesity.

Publication types

  • Review