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Skin microcirculatory dilatation to mental stress in obese human subjects is impaired. This may be implicated as a pathophysiologic mechanism for the known greater pressor response to chronic psychosocial stress in obesity and contribute to the cardiovascular complications of obesity.


Microcirculation: The smallest blood vessels, including arterioles, capillaries and venules, serving to control peripheral resistance to blood flow, tissue perfusion, and blood-tissue exchange.

Obesity: Excessive subcutaneous and visceral fat deposition, associated with insulin resistance, type II diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Vasodilatation: Increase in diameter of blood vessel as a result of vascular smooth muscle relaxation, leading to an increase in blood flow through the vessel.


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Further Reading

Agapitov, A., Correia, M., Sinkey, C., Dopp, J., and Haynes, W. (2002). Impaired skeletal muscle and skin microcirculatory function in human obesity. J. Hypertens. 20, 1401-1405. This recent article provides insights into the role of the skin microvasculature in the pathophysiol-ogy of obesity-induced hypertension. Braverman, I. (2000). The cutaneous microcirculation. J Invest Dermatol. Symp. Proc. 5, 3-9. A recent review on anatomy and physiology of skin microcirculation.

Grandall, D., Hausman, G., and Kral, J. (1997). A review of the microcirculation of adipose tissue: Anatomic, metabolic, and angiogenic perspectives. Microcirculation 4, 211-232. A recent comprehensive review of adipose tissue microcirculation. Narkiewicz, K. (2002). Obesity-related hypertension: Relevance of vascular responses to mental stress. J. Hypertens. 20, 1277-1278. A recent article discussing the relevance of stress-induced microvascular responses to obesity-related hypertension. Rosell, S., and Belfrage, E. (1979). Blood circulation in adipose tissue. Physiol. Rev. 59, 1078-1104.

Capsule Biography

Alexei Agapitov, M. D., received his research training at the University of Iowa. His research interests include the sympathetic nervous system, obesity, and hypertension.

Dr. William Haynes received his medical education at the University of Sheffield, England. In 1995, Dr. Haynes moved to the University of Iowa, where he now holds a position as Professor of Internal Medicine in the Divisions of Cardiovascular Diseases and Clinical Pharmacology. He is Program Director of the NIH-funded Clinical Research Center at the University. Dr. Haynes is also Associate Editor of the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology. His research is focused on mechanisms of vascular dysfunction in obesity, hypertension, and atherosclerosis.

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