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With the growing prevalence of obesity, scientific interest in the biology of adipose tissue has been extended to the secretory products of adipocytes, since they have been shown increasingly to affect several aspects of the pathogenesis of obesity-related diseases. Until relatively recently, the role of adipose tissue itself in the development of obesity and its consequences was considered to be a passive one. It is now clear that, in addition to storing energy in the form of triglycerides, adipocytes also secrete a large variety of proteins, including cytokines, chemokines and hormone-like factors. This production of proatherogenic chemokines by adipose tissue is of particular interest, since their local secretion, for example by perivascular adipose depots, may provide a novel mechanistic link between obesity and associated vascular complications.