Role of cytokines in inducing hyperlipidemia

Diabetes. 1992 Oct;41 Suppl 2:97-101. doi: 10.2337/diab.41.2.s97.


Plasma lipid levels are elevated in people with diabetes, and a direct relationship can be demonstrated between indices of diabetic control and plasma lipid levels. Many observations suggest that diabetes may be associated with enhanced cytokine production, raising the possibility that some of the metabolic abnormalities associated with diabetes may be due to or exacerbated by cytokine overproduction. Tumor necrosis factor induces a rapid increase in serum triglyceride levels caused by an increase in VLDL of normal composition. Although in vitro studies showed that TNF decreases adipose tissue lipoprotein lipase activity, recent studies with intact animals demonstrated that TNF increases serum triglyceride levels by stimulating hepatic lipid secretion, not by affecting clearance. The increase in hepatic VLDL triglyceride secretion induced by TNF is due to both the stimulation of hepatic de novo fatty acid synthesis and an increase in lipolysis. Other cytokines including IL-1, IL-6, and alpha-interferon increase hepatic de novo fatty acid synthesis. Similarly, cytokines such as IL-1 and alpha-, beta-, and gamma-interferon also increase lipolysis. Thus, a variety of cytokines acting at different receptors can affect multiple processes that can alter lipid metabolism and increase serum lipid levels. These cytokine-induced increases in serum lipoprotein levels may be a beneficial response for the host. Studies show that lipoproteins, including VLDL, bind endotoxin and can protect against the toxic effects of endotoxin. Moreover, lipoproteins bind a variety of viruses, reducing their infectivity. Lipoproteins also bind urate crystals, which reduces the inflammatory response induced by these crystals.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytokines / physiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hyperlipidemias / metabolism*
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / physiology


  • Cytokines
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha