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The association of anthropometric (waist circumference) and hemodynamic (blood pressure) changes with abnormalities in glucose and lipid metabolism has been motivation for a lot of discussions in the last 30 years. Nowadays, blood pressure, body mass index/abdominal circumference, glycemia, triglyceridemia, and HDL-cholesterol concentrations are considered in the definition of Metabolic syndrome, referred as Visceral adiposity syndrome (VAS) in the present review. However, more than 250 years ago an association between visceral and mediastinal obesity with hypertension, gout, and obstructive apnea had already been recognized. Expansion of visceral adipose tissue secondary to chronic over-consumption of calories stimulates the recruitment of macrophages, which assume an inflammatory phenotype and produce cytokines that directly interfere with insulin signaling, resulting in insulin resistance. In turn, insulin resistance (IR) manifests itself in various tissues, contributing to the overall phenotype of VAS. For example, in white adipose tissue, IR results in lipolysis, increased free fatty acids release and worsening of inflammation, since fatty acids can bind to Toll-like receptors. In the liver, IR results in increased hepatic glucose production, contributing to hyperglycemia; in the vascular endothelium and kidney, IR results in vasoconstriction, sodium retention and, consequently, arterial hypertension. Other players have been recognized in the development of VAS, such as genetic predisposition, epigenetic factors associated with exposure to an unfavourable intrauterine environment and the gut microbiota. More recently, experimental and clinical studies have shown the autonomic nervous system participates in modulating visceral adipose tissue. The sympathetic nervous system is related to adipose tissue function and differentiation through beta1, beta2, beta3, alpha1, and alpha2 adrenergic receptors. The relation is bidirectional: sympathetic denervation of adipose tissue blocks lipolysis to a variety of lipolytic stimuli and adipose tissue send inputs to the brain. An imbalance of sympathetic/parasympathetic and alpha2 adrenergic/beta3 receptor is related to visceral adipose tissue storage and insulin sensitivity. Thus, in addition to the well-known factors classically associated with VAS, abnormal autonomic activity also emerges as an important factor regulating white adipose tissue, which highlights complex role of adipose tissue in the VAS.
Lopes, H. F., Corrêa-Giannella, M. L., Consolim-Colombo, F. M., & Egan, B. M. (2016, July 19). Visceral adiposity syndrome. Diabetology and Metabolic Syndrome. BioMed Central Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13098-016-0156-2