Endothelial Dysfunction and Inflammation Precedes Elevations in Blood Pressure Induced by a High-Fat Diet

Abstract Background: Obesity leads to a chronic inflammatory state, endothelial dysfunction and hypertension. Objective: To establish the time-course of events regarding inflammatory markers, endothelial dysfunction, systolic blood pressure (SBP) in obesity in only one experimental model. Methods: We fed male Wistar rats (eight-week age) with a standard diet (Control - CT, n = 35), or palatable high-fat diet (HFD, n = 35) for 24 weeks. Every six weeks, 7 animals from each group were randomly selected for euthanasia. SBP and serum levels of interleukin-6, tumor necrosis factor-α, C-reactive protein, adiponectin and nitric oxide were determined. Endothelial and vascular smooth muscle functions were determined in dissected aorta and lipid peroxidation was measured. Statistical significance was set at p < 0.05. Results: Levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines began to increase after six weeks of a high-fat diet, while those of the anti-inflammatory cytokine adiponectin decreased. Interestingly, the endothelial function and serum nitric oxide began to decrease after six weeks in HFD group. The SBP and lipid peroxidation began to increase at 12 weeks in HFD group. In addition, we showed that total visceral fat mass was negatively correlated with endothelial function and positively correlated with SBP. Conclusion: Our results show the time-course of deleterious effects and their correlation with obesity.