The effects of obesity on the cerebral vasculature

Anne M. Dorrance, Nusrat Matin, Paulo W. Pires

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


The incidence of obesity in the population is increasing at an alarming rate, with this comes an increased risk of insulin resistance (IR). Obesity and IR increase an individual’s risk of having a stroke and they have been linked to several forms of dementia. Stroke and dementia are associated with, or exacerbated by, reduced cerebral blood flow, which has recently been described in obese patients. In this review we will discuss the effects of obesity on cerebral artery function and structure. Regarding their function, we will focus on the endothelium and nitric oxide (NO) dependent dilation. NO dependent dilation is impaired in cerebral arteries from obese rats, and the majority of evidence suggests this is a result of increased oxidative stress. We will also describe the limited studies showing that inward cerebral artery remodeling occurs in models of obesity, and that the remodeling is associated with an increase in the damage caused by cerebral ischemia. We will also discuss some of the more paradoxical findings associated with stroke and obesity, including the evidence that obesity is a positive factor for stroke survival. Finally we will discuss the evidence that links these changes in vascular structure and function to cognitive decline and dementia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)462-472
Number of pages11
JournalCurrent Vascular Pharmacology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Cerebral ischemia
  • Dementia
  • Insulin resistance
  • Obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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