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Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 205027, 19 pages
Review Article

Stress in Obesity and Associated Metabolic and Cardiovascular Disorders

Atherosclerosis and Metabolism Unit, Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, KU Leuven, Herestraat 49, P.O. Box 705, 3000 Leuven, Belgium

Received 21 October 2012; Accepted 11 November 2012

Academic Editors: G. Lopaschuk and S. Parthasarathy

Copyright © 2012 Paul Holvoet. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Obesity has significant implications for healthcare, since it is a major risk factor for both type 2 diabetes and the metabolic syndrome. This syndrome is a common and complex disorder combining obesity, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and insulin resistance. It is associated with high atherosclerotic cardiovascular risk, which can only partially be explained by its components. Therefore, to explain how obesity contributes to the development of metabolic and cardiovascular disorders, more and better insight is required into the effects of personal and environmental stress on disease processes. In this paper, we show that obesity is a chronic inflammatory disease, which has many molecular mechanisms in common with atherosclerosis. Furthermore, we focus on the role of oxidative stress associated with obesity in the development of the metabolic syndrome. We discuss how several stress conditions are related to inflammation and oxidative stress in association with obesity and its complications. We also emphasize the relation between stress conditions and the deregulation of epigenetic control mechanisms by means of microRNAs and show how this impairment further contributes to the development of obesity, closing the vicious circle. Finally, we discuss the limitations of current anti-inflammation and antioxidant therapy to treat obesity.