It is increasingly recognized that obesity is a risk factor for microvascular disease, involving both structural and functional changes in the microvasculature. This review aims to describe how obesity impacts the microvasculature of a variety of tissues, including visceral adipose tissue, skeletal muscle, heart, brain, kidneys, and lungs. These changes involve endothelial dysfunction, which in turn (i) impacts control of vascular tone, (ii) contributes to development of microvascular insulin resistance, (iii) alters secretion of paracrine factors like nitric oxide and endothelin, but (iv) also influences vascular structure and perivascular inflammation. In concert, these changes impair organ perfusion and organ function thereby contributing to altered release and clearance of neurohumoral factors, such as adipokines and inflammatory cytokines. Global microvascular dysfunction in obese subjects is therefore a common pathway that not only explains exercise-intolerance but also predisposes to development of chronic kidney disease, microvascular dementia, coronary microvascular angina, heart failure with preserved ejection fraction, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and pulmonary hypertension.

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Cardiovascular Research
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Sorop, O., Olver, T.D. (T. Dylan), van de Wouw, J., Heinonen, I., van Duin, R., Duncker, D., & Merkus, D. (2017). The microcirculation: A key player in obesity-associated cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular Research (Vol. 113, pp. 1035–1045). doi:10.1093/cvr/cvx093