Abdominal obesity (high waist circumference) is more strongly associated with cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes than generalized adiposity (high body mass index). Recent research has highlighted the role of chronic overactivation of the endogenous endocannabinoid system, acting through its CB1 receptor, as a key factor involved in the development of abdominal obesity and related cardiometabolic risk abnormalities such as insulin resistance, low HDLcholesterol, hypertriglyceridemia, inflammation and low adiponectin. Evidence suggests that these cardiometabolic risk factors/markers are not optimally managed by current treatments. Improving the nutrition and physical activity/exercise habits of patients remains the cornerstone of management of elevated global cardiometabolic risk. Antagonism of the endocannabinoid system provides a novel strategy to target several unaddressed cardiometabolic risk markers/factors. Randomized trials of rimonabant in patients with overweight or obesity and/or type 2 diabetes have demonstrated marked and significant improvements in body weight, waist circumference, glycemic control (in patients with type 2 diabetes), features of atherogenic dyslipidemia, insulin resistance, adipose tissue-derived cytokines (leptin and adiponectin) and Creactive protein (a marker of systemic inflammation). Further analyses suggested that about half of the improvements of several cardiometabolic risk markers were independent from concomitant weight loss. Blood pressure also improved with rimonabant treatment, this effect being consistent with the blood pressure lowering effect of weight loss. The tolerability and safety of rimonabant have been extensively studied and most transient side effects include some gastrointestinal side effects, anxiety, mood changes and incidence of depressive disorders, particularly in patients with previous history of depression. Rimonabant is a useful option for patients with abdominal obesity and with related cardiometabolic risk abnormalities such as an atherogenic dyslipidemia and/or type 2 diabetes.
Keywords: Abdominal obesity, cardiometabolic risk, cardiovascular disease, endocannabinoid system, intra-abdominal adiposity, obesity, rimonabant, type 2 diabetes
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