Obesity often occurs with a quintessential array of metabolic abnormalities: elevations in blood pressure, visceral fat, and circulating blood lipids, and, importantly, insulin resistance. Together, this constellation of conditions constitutes the metabolic syndrome and forecasts an individual’s increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes. Although metabolic syndrome presents as dysfunction across multiple tissues, its onset stems from pathological increases in adipose tissue. The 9 review in this series, conceptualized by series editor Philipp Scherer, delve into the complex biology underlying the metabolic syndrome. These reviews address adipocyte and beta cell dysfunction in the metabolic syndrome; the functions of adipose tissue fibrosis, the microbiome, and exosomal communication in obesity; and the concepts we use to define metabolic health.
In a society where physical activity is limited and food supply is abundant, metabolic diseases are becoming a serious epidemic. Metabolic syndrome (MetS) represents a cluster of metabolically related symptoms such as obesity, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and carbohydrate intolerance, and significantly increases type 2 diabetes mellitus risk. Insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia are consistent characteristics of MetS, but which of these features is the initiating insult is still widely debated. Regardless, both of these conditions trigger adverse responses from the pancreatic β cell, which is responsible for producing, storing, and releasing insulin to maintain glucose homeostasis. The observation that the degree of β cell dysfunction correlates with the severity of MetS highlights the need to better understand β cell dysfunction in the development of MetS. This Review focuses on the current understanding from rodent and human studies of the progression of β cell responses during the development of MetS, as well as recent findings addressing the complexity of β cell identity and heterogeneity within the islet during disease progression. The differential responses observed in β cells together with the heterogeneity in disease phenotypes within the patient population emphasize the need to better understand the mechanisms behind β cell adaptation, identity, and dysfunction in MetS.
Laura I. Hudish, Jane E.B. Reusch, Lori Sussel
Lipodystrophies are the result of a range of inherited and acquired causes, but all are characterized by perturbations in white adipose tissue function and, in many instances, its mass or distribution. Though patients are often nonobese, they typically manifest a severe form of the metabolic syndrome, highlighting the importance of white fat in the “safe” storage of surplus energy. Understanding the molecular pathophysiology of congenital lipodystrophies has yielded useful insights into the biology of adipocytes and informed therapeutic strategies. More recently, genome-wide association studies focused on insulin resistance have linked common variants to genes implicated in adipose biology and suggested that subtle forms of lipodystrophy contribute to cardiometabolic disease risk at a population level. These observations underpin the use of aligned treatment strategies in insulin-resistant obese and lipodystrophic patients, the major goal being to alleviate the energetic burden on adipose tissue.
Jake P. Mann, David B. Savage
The metabolic syndrome (MetS) encompasses medical conditions such as obesity, hyperglycemia, high blood pressure, and dyslipidemia that are major drivers for the ever-increasing prevalence of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and certain types of cancer. At the core of clinical strategies against the MetS is weight loss, induced by bariatric surgery, lifestyle changes based on calorie reduction and exercise, or pharmacology. This Review summarizes the past, current, and future efforts of targeting the MetS by pharmacological agents. Major emphasis is given to drugs that target the CNS as a key denominator for obesity and its comorbid sequelae.
Kerstin Stemmer, Timo D. Müller, Richard D. DiMarchi, Paul T. Pfluger, Matthias H. Tschöp