Fat-Specific Protein 27 Regulation of Vascular Function in Human Obesity

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© 2019 The Authors. Published on behalf of the American Heart Association, Inc., by Wiley. Background: Pathophysiological mechanisms that connect obesity to cardiovascular disease are incompletely understood. FSP27 (Fat-specific protein 27) is a lipid droplet-associated protein that regulates lipolysis and insulin sensitivity in adipocytes. We unexpectedly discovered extensive FSP27 expression in human endothelial cells that is downregulated in association with visceral obesity. We sought to examine the functional role of FSP27 in the control of vascular phenotype. Methods and Results: We biopsied paired subcutaneous and visceral fat depots from 61 obese individuals (body mass index 44±8 kg/m2, age 48±4 years) during planned bariatric surgery. We characterized depot-specific FSP27 expression in relation to adipose tissue microvascular insulin resistance, endothelial function and angiogenesis, and examined differential effects of FSP27 modification on vascular function. We observed markedly reduced vasodilator and angiogenic capacity of microvessels isolated from the visceral compared with subcutaneous adipose depots. Recombinant FSP27 and/or adenoviral FSP27 overexpression in human tissue increased endothelial nitric oxide synthase phosphorylation and nitric oxide production, and rescued vasomotor and angiogenic dysfunction (P<0.05), while siRNA-mediated FSP27 knockdown had opposite effects. Mechanistically, we observed that FSP27 interacts with vascular endothelial growth factor-A and exerts robust regulatory control over its expression. Lastly, in a subset of subjects followed longitudinally for 12±3 months after their bariatric surgery, 30% weight loss improved metabolic parameters and increased angiogenic capacity that correlated positively with increased FSP27 expression (r=0.79, P<0.05). Conclusions: Our data strongly support a key role and functional significance of FSP27 as a critical endogenous modulator of human microvascular function that has not been previously described. FSP27 may serve as a previously unrecognized regulator of arteriolar vasomotor capacity and angiogenesis which are pivotal in the pathogenesis of cardiometabolic diseases linked to obesity.