Pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines are the game-changers in childhood obesity-associated metabolic disorders (diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases)

Rev Endocr Metab Disord. 2024 May 6. doi: 10.1007/s11154-024-09884-y. Online ahead of print.


Childhood obesity is a chronic inflammatory epidemic that affects children worldwide. Obesity affects approximately 1 in 5 children worldwide. Obesity in children can worsen weight gain and raise the risk of obesity-related comorbidities like diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). It can also negatively impact the quality of life for these children. Obesity disrupts immune system function, influencing cytokine (interleukins) balance and expression levels, adipokines, and innate and adaptive immune cells. The altered expression of immune system mediators, including interleukin-1 (IL-1), interleukin-6 (IL-6), interleukin-8 (IL-8), interleukin-17 (IL-17), interleukin-18 (IL-18), transforming growth factor (TGF), tumor necrosis factor (TNF), and others, caused inflammation, progression, and the development of pediatric obesity and linked illnesses such as diabetes and NAFLD. Furthermore, anti-inflammatory cytokines, including interleukin-2 (IL-2), have been shown to have anti-diabetes and IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra) anti-diabetic and pro-NAFLFD properties, and interleukin-10 (IL-10) has been shown to have a dual role in managing diabetes and anti-NAFLD. In light of the substantial increase in childhood obesity-associated disorders such as diabetes and NAFLD and the absence of an effective pharmaceutical intervention to inhibit immune modulation factors, it is critical to consider the alteration of immune system components as a preventive and therapeutic approach. Thus, the current review focuses on the most recent information regarding the influence of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines (interleukins) and their molecular mechanisms on pediatric obesity-associated disorders (diabetes and NAFLD). Furthermore, we discussed the current therapeutic clinical trials in childhood obesity-associated diseases, diabetes, and NAFLD.

Keywords: Childhood; Diabetes; Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; Obesity; Pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines.

Publication types

  • Review