Sympathetic nervous system activity is associated with obesity-induced subclinical organ damage in young adults

Elisabeth Lambert, Carolina Ika Sari, Tye Dawood, Julie Nguyen, Mariee McGrane, Nina Eikelis, Reena Chopra, Chiew Wong, Kanella Chatzivlastou, Geoff Head, Nora Straznicky, Murray Esler, Markus Schlaich, Gavin Lambert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

150 Citations (Scopus)


Excess weight is established as a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, particularly in young individuals. To get a better understanding of the pathophysiology underlying increased cardiovascular disease risk, we evaluated early signs of organ damage and their possible relationship to sympathetic nervous activity. Eighteen lean (body mass index <25 kg/m 2) and 25 overweight or obese (body mass index >25 kg/m 2) healthy university students were included in the study. We comprehensively assessed subclinical target organ damage, including the following: (1) assessment of renal function; (2) left ventricular structure and systolic and diastolic function; and (3) endothelial function. Muscle sympathetic nervous activity was assessed by microneurography. Participants with excess weight had decreased endothelial function (P<0.01), elevated creatinine clearance (P<0.05), increased left ventricular mass index (P<0.05), increased left ventricular wall thickness (P<0.01), lower systolic and diastolic function (P<0.01), and elevated muscle sympathetic nervous activity (P<0.001) compared with lean individuals. In multiple regression analysis, endothelial function was inversely related to muscle sympathetic nervous activity (R2=0.244; P<0.05), whereas creatinine clearance and left ventricular mass index were positively related to muscle sympathetic nervous activity, after adjustment for body mass index, sex, and blood pressure (R2=0.318, P<0.01 and R2=0.312, P<0.05, respectively). Excess weight in young individuals is associated with subclinical alterations in renal and endothelial function, as well as in the structure of the heart, even in the absence of hypertension. Sympathetic activity is closely associated with cardiovascular and renal alterations observed in these subjects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-358
Number of pages8
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2010
Externally publishedYes


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