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      Epicardial adipose tissue: anatomic, biomolecular and clinical relationships with the heart.

      Nature clinical practice. Cardiovascular medicine

      Tomography, X-Ray Computed, pathology, metabolism, Pericardium, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, ultrasonography, radiography, Intra-Abdominal Fat, Humans, physiopathology, Heart Diseases, Echocardiography, Adipose Tissue

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          Abstract

          A growing amount of evidence suggests that regional fat distribution plays an important part in the development of an unfavorable metabolic and cardiovascular risk profile. Epicardial fat is a metabolically active organ that generates various bioactive molecules, which might significantly affect cardiac function. This small, visceral fat depot is now recognized as a rich source of free fatty acids and a number of bioactive molecules, such as adiponectin, resistin and inflammatory cytokines, which could affect the coronary artery response. The observed increases in concentrations of inflammatory factors in patients who have undergone coronary artery bypass grafting remain to be confirmed in healthy individuals. Furthermore, epicardial adipose mass might reflect intra-abdominal visceral fat. Therefore, we propose that echocardiographic assessment of this tissue could serve as a reliable marker of visceral adiposity. Epicardial adipose tissue is also clinically related to left ventricular mass and other features of the metabolic syndrome, such as concentrations of LDL cholesterol, fasting insulin and adiponectin, and arterial blood pressure. Echocardiographic assessment of epicardial fat could be a simple and practical tool for cardiovascular risk stratification in clinical practice and research. In this paper, we briefly review the rapidly emerging evidence pointing to a specific role of epicardial adipose tissue both as a cardiac risk marker and as a potentially active player in the development of cardiac pathology.

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          Most cited references 24

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          Definition of metabolic syndrome: Report of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute/American Heart Association conference on scientific issues related to definition.

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            Adipose tissue as an endocrine organ.

            Adipose tissue is a complex, essential, and highly active metabolic and endocrine organ. Besides adipocytes, adipose tissue contains connective tissue matrix, nerve tissue, stromovascular cells, and immune cells. Together these components function as an integrated unit. Adipose tissue not only responds to afferent signals from traditional hormone systems and the central nervous system but also expresses and secretes factors with important endocrine functions. These factors include leptin, other cytokines, adiponectin, complement components, plasminogen activator inhibitor-1, proteins of the renin-angiotensin system, and resistin. Adipose tissue is also a major site for metabolism of sex steroids and glucocorticoids. The important endocrine function of adipose tissue is emphasized by the adverse metabolic consequences of both adipose tissue excess and deficiency. A better understanding of the endocrine function of adipose tissue will likely lead to more rational therapy for these increasingly prevalent disorders. This review presents an overview of the endocrine functions of adipose tissue.
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              Human epicardial adipose tissue is a source of inflammatory mediators.

              Inflammatory mediators that originate in vascular and extravascular tissues promote coronary lesion formation. Adipose tissue may function as an endocrine organ that contributes to an inflammatory burden in patients at risk of cardiovascular complications. In this study, we sought to compare expression of inflammatory mediators in epicardial and subcutaneous adipose stores in patients with critical CAD. Paired samples of epicardial and subcutaneous adipose tissues were harvested at the outset of elective CABG surgery (n=42; age 65+/-10 years). Local expression of chemokine (monocyte chemotactic protein [MCP]-1) and inflammatory cytokines (interleukin [IL]-1beta, IL-6, and tumor necrosis factor [TNF]-alpha) was analyzed by TaqMan real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (mRNA) and by ELISA (protein release over 3 hours). Significantly higher levels of IL-1beta, IL-6, MCP-1, and TNF-alpha mRNA and protein were observed in epicardial adipose stores. Proinflammatory properties of epicardial adipose tissue were noted irrespective of clinical variables (diabetes, body mass index, and chronic use of statins or ACE inhibitors/angiotensin II receptor blockers) or plasma concentrations of circulating biomarkers. In a subset of samples (n=11), global gene expression was explored by DNA microarray hybridization and confirmed the presence of a broad inflammatory reaction in epicardial adipose tissue in patients with coronary artery disease. The above findings were paralleled by the presence of inflammatory cell infiltrates in epicardial adipose stores. Epicardial adipose tissue is a source of several inflammatory mediators in high-risk cardiac patients. Plasma inflammatory biomarkers may not adequately reflect local tissue inflammation. Current therapies do not appear to eliminate local inflammatory signals in epicardial adipose tissue.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                16186852
                10.1038/ncpcardio0319

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