• cardiovascular risk factor;
  • human mononuclear cells;
  • leptin;
  • obesity;
  • tissue factor

Summary. Background: Obesity is a major modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Leptin, the hormone synthesized and released primarily by adipose tissue and found increased in obese individuals, has been implicated in the regulation of inflammation and arterial and venous thrombosis. Objective: To investigate the role of tissue factor (TF), the pivotal agonist of the clotting cascade, as a link between obesity and cardiovascular disease. Methods and results: In 15 obese patients, plasma levels of leptin and TF as well as TF expression in resting and endotoxin-stimulated mononuclear leukocytes (MN) were increased when compared with healthy donors. In a selected sample of obese patients, loss of body weight led to decreased circulating leptin levels, accompanied by a reduction in plasma TF as well as in TF expression, both in resting and endotoxin-stimulated MN. In subsequent in vitro experiments, leptin was incubated with MN from healthy subjects. Leptin induced TF activity and antigen in a dose-dependent fashion, as assessed by clotting assay and ELISA, respectively. Increased migration of c-Rel/p65 into the nucleus, as determined by EMSA, and development of TF mRNA in monocytes, as assessed by RT-PCR, were observed. Experiments with mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) inhibitors, indicated the involvement of p38 and ERK1/2 pathways. Conclusions: The presence of TF-expressing MN in blood from obese subjects and the in vitro induction of TF by pharmacologic concentrations of leptin in MN from healthy subjects suggest that TF expression by leptin-stimulated monocytes may contribute to the cardiovascular risk associated with obesity.