Adipokines in atherosclerosis: unraveling complex roles

Front Cardiovasc Med. 2023 Aug 14:10:1235953. doi: 10.3389/fcvm.2023.1235953. eCollection 2023.


Adipokines are biologically active factors secreted by adipose tissue that act on local and distant tissues through autocrine, paracrine, and endocrine mechanisms. However, adipokines are believed to be involved in an increased risk of atherosclerosis. Classical adipokines include leptin, adiponectin, and ceramide, while newly identified adipokines include visceral adipose tissue-derived serpin, omentin, and asprosin. New evidence suggests that adipokines can play an essential role in atherosclerosis progression and regression. Here, we summarize the complex roles of various adipokines in atherosclerosis lesions. Representative protective adipokines include adiponectin and neuregulin 4; deteriorating adipokines include leptin, resistin, thrombospondin-1, and C1q/tumor necrosis factor-related protein 5; and adipokines with dual protective and deteriorating effects include C1q/tumor necrosis factor-related protein 1 and C1q/tumor necrosis factor-related protein 3; and adipose tissue-derived bioactive materials include sphingosine-1-phosphate, ceramide, and adipose tissue-derived exosomes. However, the role of a newly discovered adipokine, asprosin, in atherosclerosis remains unclear. This article reviews progress in the research on the effects of adipokines in atherosclerosis and how they may be regulated to halt its progression.

Keywords: adipokine; atherosclerosis; endothelial cell; macrophage; vascular smooth muscle cell.

Publication types

  • Review

Grants and funding

This study was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 82071183 to ZZ and No. 82001245 to XN).