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Joslin Diabetes Center pinpoints a key metabolic syndrome factor that heightens risk of cardiovascular disease

Joslin Diabetes Center : 06 February, 2008  (New Product)
Researchers at Joslin Diabetes Center have identified insulin resistance in the liver as a key factor in the cause of metabolic syndrome and its associated atherosclerosis, disorders that put tens of millions of Americans at high risk of cardiovascular disease.
Results from the research study are published in the February issue of Cell Metabolism and provide an understanding of how metabolic syndrome occurs as well as pinpointing a target for treatment of the condition.

The study represents the work of Sudha Biddinger, MD, PhD, and a team led by C Ronald Kahn, MD, head of the Joslin Research Section on Obesity and Hormone Action and the Mary K Iacocca, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

'This is one of the first true insights into the role of the liver in the metabolic syndrome and provides guidance for future therapies,' said senior investigator Dr Kahn, an internationally recognised researcher in diabetes and metabolism. 'Showing this connection between atherosclerosis and insulin resistance is one of the most dramatic findings I've seen in 35 years.'

Metabolic syndrome is a collection of medical problems related to insulin resistance, including obesity, glucose intolerance, hypertension, lowered HDL ‘good’ cholesterol and elevated triglycerides. Together these are associated with an increased risk of atherosclerosis, the build-up of plaque in the coronary arteries that leads to heart attack and stroke.

'This study clearly indicates that metabolic syndrome is not merely a collection of abnormalities that should be considered and treated independently, as some experts have advocated,' said Kahn and Biddinger. 'Rather, it appears that metabolic syndrome is truly a group of closely linked disturbances in glucose and cholesterol metabolism that stem from a defect in insulin signalling in the liver.'

The research was funded in part by grants from the National Institutes of Health and The Iacocca Foundation.
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