Obesity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, but the mechanisms for increased cardiovascular risk in obesity are still unclear. Inflammation and increased oxidative stress are two potential mechanisms proposed to play a major role in the morbidity associated with obesity. Studies that investigate these mechanisms rely on biomarkers, but validated biomarkers for obesity-related cardiovascular outcomes are lacking. By finding optimal biomarkers, diagnostic criteria for cardiovascular diseases can be refined in the obese beyond "traditional" risk factors to identify early pathologic processes. The objective of this review is to identify potential early biomarkers resulting from obesity and associated with cardiovascular disease. Studies were initially identified through the search engine PubMed by using the keywords "obesity" and "biomarker." Subsequently, combinations of the keywords "obesity," "biomarker," "cardiovascular risk," "adipose tissue," "adipokine," "adipocytokine," and "oxidative stress" were used. The SOURCE database and Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) were used to obtain more information on the biomarkers. Results of the searches yielded a large number of potential biomarkers that occur in obesity and which either correlate with traditional cardiovascular risk factors or predict subsequent cardiovascular events. Several biomarkers are promising regarding their biologic properties, but they require further validation in humans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-114
Number of pages17
JournalEpidemiologic Reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences institutional grant 5 T32 ES10957. Conflict of interest: none declared.


  • Adipose tissue
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Inflammation
  • Obesity
  • Oxidative stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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