Epicardial Fat in the Maintenance of Cardiovascular Health

Yang Wu, Aijun Zhang, Dale J Hamilton, Tuo Deng

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Epicardial fat is a unique adipose tissue located between the myocardium and the visceral layer of pericardium. This tissue is characterized by highly active fatty acid metabolism and highly expressed thermogenic genes. Epicardial fat and the underlying myocardium share the same microcirculation, suggesting a close and strong interaction between these two structures. Under physiological conditions, epicardial fat protects and supports the heart to exert its normal function. Many clinical studies have shown significant associations between increased amounts of epicardial fat and coronary artery disease (CAD). In patients with CAD, increased epicardial fat becomes inflammatory and may promote plaque development through secretion of proinflammatory cytokines and other mechanisms. Therefore, epicardial fat is a biomarker of cardiovascular risk and a potential therapeutic target for cardiovascular disease. Weight loss and pharmaceuticals can reduce epicardial fat and improve its protective physiological functions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20-24
Number of pages5
JournalMethodist DeBakey cardiovascular journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • adipokine
  • coronary artery disease
  • epicardial fat
  • inflammation
  • myocardium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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