Perivascular adipose tissue around the vessels not only accumulates lipids, but also directly affects the relaxation of vascular tissues.
Scientists at Michigan State University have found new evidence that the perivascular adipose tissue that surrounds our arteries may play an important role in maintaining blood vessel health. An article about this was published in Scientific Reports.
A team of researchers led by Professor of Pharmacology Stephanie Watts has shown that adipose tissue helps vessels partially compensate for the tension they experience when stretched. “This is good because the vessel uses less energy and does not experience as much stress,” concludes Watts.
The beneficial functions of perivascular adipose tissue (PAT) have been largely ignored by researchers. It was believed that its main purpose was to store lipids and nothing more. However, the degree of influence of fat on our blood vessels turned out to be much greater. Stephanie Watts even put forward a proposal to consider VVT as another, fourth membrane of blood vessels called tunica adiposa.
Earlier studies have already shown that VAT secretes substances that can cause vasoconstriction or relaxation. In the new work, the researchers wanted to understand whether adipose tissue can directly affect the functioning of blood vessels and give a certain "structural advantage" to the arteries.
Scientists placed the aortic valve rings of laboratory rats in incubators. Some of these rings are covered with fatty tissue. Then the samples were slightly stretched for 30 minutes and checked how the anatomical structures returned to their original state. Samples covered with adipose tissue showed a much better relaxation capacity than intact samples.
This discovery could have a significant impact on how researchers are testing drugs and therapies related to the problem of fatty plaque buildup in our arteries, that is, atherosclerosis. “Our work redefines functional blood vessels and includes what may be dysfunctional in disease. We need to pay attention to this layer of the blood vessel because it does so much more than we originally thought,”summarizes Watts.