Translating the biology of adipokines in atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases: Gaps and open questions
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© 2017 The Italian Society of Diabetology, the Italian Society for the Study of Atherosclerosis, the Italian Society of Human Nutrition, and the Department of Clinical Medicine and Surgery, Federico II University Aim Critically discuss the available data, to identify the current gaps and to provide key concepts that will help clinicians in translating the biology of adipokines in the context of atherosclerosis and cardio-metabolic diseases. Data synthesis Adipose tissue is nowadays recognized as an active endocrine organ, a function related to the ability to secrete adipokines (such as leptin and adiponectin) and pro-inflammatory cytokines (tumor necrosis factor alpha and resistin). Studies in vitro and in animal models have observed that obesity status presents a chronic low-grade inflammation as the consequence of the immune cells infiltrating the adipose tissue as well as adipocytes. This inflammatory signature is often related to the presence of cardiovascular diseases, including atherosclerosis and thrombosis. These links are less clear in humans, where the role of adipokines as prognostic marker and/or player in cardiovascular diseases is not as clear as that observed in experimental models. Moreover, plasma adipokine levels might reflect a condition of adipokine-resistance in which adipokine redundancy occurs. The investigation of the cardio-metabolic phenotype of carriers of single nucleotide polymorphisms affecting the levels or function of a specific adipokine might help determine their relevance in humans. Thus, the aim of the present review is to critically discuss the available data, identify the current gaps and provide key concepts that will help clinicians translate the biology of adipokines in the context of atherosclerosis and cardio-metabolic diseases.
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