In this research, we found a higher prevalence of hypertension in obese subjects (32.7%) than in normal weight subjects (6.1%), with a prevalence of 13.6% in the total study subjects. These findings are similar to those reported in another study in U.S. teenagers; where hypertension showed a prevalence of 30% in obese subjects . It is known that the increase sodium reabsorption induced by angiotensin II produced by adipocytes affects renal natriuresis, so that obese subjects need higher blood pressure levels than normal weight subjects to maintain a balance between the sodium intake and renal diuresis .
In this study, as in previous studies the lipid profile (TC, LDL-C and TG) was higher in obese subjects than normal-weight controls. This may be due to increased adiposity since adipose tissue undergoes morphological and physiological changes which include the release of proinflammatory cytokines such as tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), and in turn, decrease insulin sensitivity and increase lipolysis. These morphological changes contribute to insulin resistance and dyslipidemia .
An interesting finding in this study was that obese subjects have a higher number of monocytes and platelets than the normal-weight subjects. The leukocyte count is considered as an indicator of inflammatory status in obesity . In addition, research has shown that adults and children with obesity have higher levels of leukocytes, mainly monocytes, compared with adults and children of normal weight [32–34]. Regarding increased platelet count in subjects with obesity, similar findings have been shown in other studies, where the platelet count is higher in teenagers and adults with obesity than normal weight subjects [35, 36]. In relation to cytokines, it has been shown that interleukin-6 (IL-6) induces differentiation of megakaryocytes into platelets and that IL-6 is produced by adipose tissue [37, 38]. Furthermore, it has been reported that obese individuals have increased levels of IL-6 , which may explain the increase in platelets in an obese state.
In this study, we observed that sCD36 was higher in obese subjects than in normal weight subjects (143.3 ng/mL vs. 32.3 ng/mL, P = 0.002), these results are congruent with previous studies [21, 40]. This may be due to the increased number of platelets and monocytes shown in obese subjects, as was recently reported that the circulating form of the CD36 receptor is associated with microparticles mainly originated of platelets, leukocytes and endothelial cells as a result of stimuli or apoptosis [8, 25]. These microparticles have been found increased in subjects with insulin resistance and obese with type 2 diabetes, due to presence of a low-grade inflammation [41–43]. In this study, we observed that serum oxLDL levels were higher in obese subjects than in control group (51.5 U/L vs. 35.4 U/L), these results are consistent with those reported in other studies . This may be due to the increase oxidative stress in an obese state, which favors the oxidation of LDL-C [45, 46].
We observed a high correlation of sCD36 with BMI in obese subjects (r =50, P = 0.028), similar results have been reported in previous studies . In addition, oxLDL levels showed a strong correlation with BMI, TG and LDL-C in subjects with and without obesity. Such correlations are similar to those reported in other studies [48, 49].
In this research, sCD36 in the third tertile (>97.8 ng/mL) were associated with obesity, although there is a lack of studies that support this association, sCD36 have been correlated with BMI [47, 50]. Higher sCD36 in obese subjects than in normal weight subjects have also been reported in other studies [21, 43]. Furthermore, it is proposed that high CD36 levels may be a marker of increased CD36 expression known from a number of tissues that are associated with the metabolic syndrome; macrophage infiltration and low-grade inflammation in abdominal obesity, which may lead to dyslipidemia and peroxidation of lipoproteins .
We also found that oxLDL levels in third tertile (>48.0 U/L) were associated with hypercholesterolemia, impaired fasting LDL-C, hypertriglyceridemia and obesity. The association between dyslipidemia and oxidation of LDL has been demonstrated in individuals in the pre-diabetic state . It has also been observed in middle-aged people that obesity and dyslipidemia are the strongest predictors of oxLDL levels . The association between cardiovascular disease (CVD) and oxLDL has been demonstrated in others studies [52–55]. Considering the associations shown in this study (sCD36 and oxLDL levels with traditional cardiovascular risk factors such as obesity, hypercholesterolemia, hypertriglyceridemia and impaired fasting LDL-C), measuring sCD36 and oxLDL levels can be incorporated into cardiovascular risk factors in young subjects for early diagnosis of cardiovascular disease.
Our research has some limitations. We could not study the associations between sCD36 and oxLDL levels with early atherosclerosis. As our study is comprised of young subjects without clinical atherosclerotic diseases, we were only able to study associations between traditional cardiovascular risk factors with sCD36 and oxLDL levels. Whether the increase of these markers in young subjects is associated with the silent phase of atherosclerosis remains to be elucidated. The authors believe that a greater obese group is desirable to improve the power of the study.