Metabolic Syndrome and the Lung

Chest. 2016 Jun;149(6):1525-34. doi: 10.1016/j.chest.2015.12.034. Epub 2016 Jan 20.


A link between metabolic syndrome (MetS) and lung diseases has been observed in several cross-sectional and longitudinal studies. This syndrome has been identified as an independent risk factor for worsening respiratory symptoms, greater lung function impairment, pulmonary hypertension, and asthma. This review will discuss several potential mechanisms to explain these associations, including dietary factors and the effect of adiposity and fat-induced inflammation on the lungs, and the role of other comorbidities that frequently coexist with MetS, such as OSA and obesity. In contrast to the well-known association between asthma and obesity, the recognition that MetS affects the lung is relatively new. Although some controversy remains as to whether MetS is a unique disease entity, its individual components have independently been associated with changes in pulmonary function or lung disease. There is, however, uncertainty as to the relative contribution that each metabolic factor has in adversely affecting the respiratory system; also, it is unclear how much of the MetS-related lung effects occur independently of obesity. In spite of these epidemiological limitations, the proposed mechanistic pathways strongly suggest that this association is likely to be causal. Given the wide prevalence of MetS in the general population, it is imperative that we continue to further understand how this metabolic disorder impacts the lung and how to prevent its complications.

Keywords: COPD; asthma; metabolic syndrome; obesity; obstructive sleep apnea; pulmonary hypertension.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Comorbidity
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Lung Diseases* / physiopathology
  • Lung Diseases* / prevention & control
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Preventive Medicine / methods
  • Respiratory Function Tests / methods
  • Risk Factors