The metabolic syndrome (MetS) is manifested by a lipid triad which includes elevated serum triglycerides, small LDL particles, and low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, by central obesity (central adiposity), insulin resistance, glucose intolerance and elevated blood pressure, and it is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease. We have developed a new hypothesis regarding MetS as a consequence of a high intake in carbohydrates and food with a high glycemic index, particularly fructose, and relatively low intake of cholesterol and saturated fat. We support our arguments through animal studies which have shown that exposure of the liver to increased quantities of fructose leads to rapid stimulation of lipogenesis and accumulation of triglycerides. The adipocytes store triglycerides in lipid droplets, leading to adipocyte hypertrophy. Adipocyte hypertrophy is associated with macrophage accumulation in adipose tissue. An important modulator of obesity-associated macrophage responses in white adipose tissue is the death of adipocytes. Excess exposure to fructose intake determines the liver to metabolize high doses of fructose, producing increased levels of fructose end products, like glyceraldehyde and dihydroxyacetone phosphate, that can converge with the glycolytic pathway. Fructose also leads to increased levels of advanced glycation end products. The macrophages exposed to advanced glycation end products become dysfunctional and, on entry into the artery wall, contribute to plaque formation and thrombosis.
Keywords: cholesterol; fructose; metabolic syndrome.