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Adipose tissue secretes a number of cytokines, referred to as adipokines. Intensive studies conducted over the last two decades showed that adipokines exert broad effects on cardiac metabolism and function. In addition, the available data strongly suggests that these cytokines play an important role in development of cardiovascular diseases. Epicardial adipose tissue (EAT) has special properties that distinguish it from other deposits of visceral fat. Overall, there appears to be a close functional and anatomic relationship between the EAT and the cardiac muscle. They share the same coronary blood supply, and there is no structure separating the adipose tissue from the myocardium or coronary arteries. The role of EAT in osierdziocardiac physiology remains unclear. Its putative functions include buffering coronary arteries against the torsion induced by the arterial pulse wave and cardiac contraction, regulating fatty acid homeostasis in the coronary microcirculation, thermogenesis, and neuroprotection of the cardiac autonomic ganglia and nerves. Obesity (particularly the abdominal phenotype) leads to elevated EAT content, and the available data suggests that high amount of this fat depot is associated with increased risk of ischemic heart disease, cardiac hypertrophy and diastolic dysfunction. The mass of EAT is small compared to other fat deposits in the body. Nevertheless, its close anatomic relationship to the heart suggests that this organ is highly exposed to EAT-derived adipokines which makes this tissue a very promising area of research. In this paper we review the current knowledge on the role of EAT in cardiac physiology and development of heart disease.


Kacper Toczyłowski, Michał Gruca, Marcin Baranowski. Epicardial adipose tissue and its role in cardiac physiology and disease]. Postȩpy higieny i medycyny doświadczalnej (Online). 2013;67:584-93

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PMID: 23799402

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