Manifestations and mechanisms of myocardial lipotoxicity in obesity

A. C. Sletten, L. R. Peterson, J. E. Schaffer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

16 Scopus citations


Environmental and socioeconomic changes over the past thirty years have contributed to a dramatic rise in the worldwide prevalence of obesity. Heart disease is amongst the most serious health risks of obesity, with increases in both atherosclerotic coronary heart disease and heart failure among obese individuals. In this review, we focus on primary myocardial alterations in obesity that include hypertrophic remodelling and diastolic dysfunction. Obesity-associated perturbations in myocardial and systemic lipid metabolism are important contributors to cardiovascular complications of obesity. Accumulation of excess lipid in nonadipose cells of the cardiovascular system can cause cell dysfunction and cell death, a process known as lipotoxicity. Lipotoxicity has been modelled in mice using high-fat diet feeding, inbred lines with mutations in leptin receptor signalling, and in genetically engineered mice with enhanced myocardial fatty acid uptake, altered lipid droplet homoeostasis or decreased cardiac fatty acid oxidation. These studies, along with findings in cell culture model systems, indicate that the molecular pathophysiology of lipid overload involves endoplasmic reticulum stress, alterations in autophagy, de novo ceramide synthesis, oxidative stress, inflammation and changes in gene expression. We highlight recent advances that extend our understanding of the impact of obesity and altered lipid metabolism on cardiac function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)478-491
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Internal Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2018


  • diabetes
  • heart failure
  • lipids
  • obesity

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