The metabolic syndrome and inflammation

Metab Syndr Relat Disord. 2004 Jun;2(2):82-104. doi: 10.1089/met.2004.2.82.


The metabolic syndrome (MS) is a clustering of cardiovascular risk factors, with insulin resistance as a major feature. This syndrome has been variously defined, but generally consists of 3 or more of the following components: hyperglycemia, hypertension, hypertriglyceridemia, low HDL, and increased abdominal circumference and/or BMI at >30 kg/m(2). The WHO criteria require the presence of insulin resistance to make the diagnosis. The current review focuses particularly on the association of the MS and the proinflammatory state as well as treatment options to prevent the development of coronary heart disease (CHD). Chronic inflammation is frequently associated with the MS. Inflammatory markers that have been associated with MS include hs-CRP, TNF-alpha, fibrinogen, and IL-6, among others. The link between inflammation and the MS is not fully understood. One postulated mechanism is that these cytokines are released into the circulation by adipose tissue, stimulating hepatic CRP production. The prothrombotic molecule PAI-1 is also increased in the MS. Adiponectin, produced exclusively by adipocytes, is decreased in obesity. The association of these proinflammatory and prothrombotic markers with the MS is discussed in detail. The general goals of treatment of the MS are prevention of CHD events and diabetes if not already present. The approach to treatment of those with the MS should include lifestyle changes, including weight loss and exercise as well as appropriate pharmacological therapies. Certain medications, which may be used in persons with MS, have been shown to have beneficial effects on clinical outcome and/or anti-inflammatory effects.