Obesity and its related metabolic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, are associated with alterations in the circulating levels of various peptides. These include the adipocytokines (peptides released by adipocytes which circulate, such as leptin, adiponectin and resistin), and other peptides whose levels are altered in association with obesity (such as ghrelin, neuropeptide Y, interleukin-1β and tumour necrosis factor-α). While the primary action of these peptides is linked with the regulation and maintenance of energy balance and metabolism, many of them have also been shown to possess vasoactive, inflammatory and other properties that influence vascular biology, vascular physiology and atherogenesis. As such, they may form an important mechanistic link between obesity and cardiovascular disease. In this review, we will outline the vasoactive properties of adipocytokines and other obesity-related peptides. In particular, as pharmacotherapies suggested to achieve weight loss will alter the pathways associated with these peptides, such treatments might have either beneficial or deleterious effects on the incidence and progression of cardiovascular disease.
Keywords: Atherosclerosis, vascular biology, adipocytokines, obesity, leptin, adiponectin, resistin, neuropeptide Y