Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) have shown, for the first time, that blocking the action of a critical protein can improve multiple inflammatory pathways in patients with the metabolic syndrome – a cluster of symptoms associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. If supported in future studies, the findings may suggest new strategies for improving the cardiovascular risk in patients with the metabolic syndrome. This preliminary report appears in the April 24 Archives of Internal Medicine.
"This proof of principle sheds light on the physiology of inflammation and its relation to cardiac risk in obese patients," says Steven Grinspoon, MD, of the MGH Program in Nutritional Metabolism and Neuroendocrine Unit, the report’s senior author. "And it’s the first study of the medication etanercept, currently prescribed to treat arthritis and psoriasis, used in patients with the metabolic syndrome."
Metabolic syndrome is a group of symptoms that includes abdominal obesity, high triglycerides and LDL ("bad") cholesterol along with low HDL ("good") cholesterol, insulin resistance or glucose intolerance, and abnormal levels of several inflammatory proteins. The occurrence of the syndrome is increasing, and it is estimated to affect more than 50 million Americans currently. Also called insulin resistance syndrome, metabolic syndrome increases the risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular disorders, as well as type 2 diabetes. While there are many questions about the mechanism behind metabolic syndrome, current evidence suggests that inflammatory proteins released by abdominal fat may be an underlying cause of the increased cardiovascular risk.
One of the key inflammatory proteins released by fat cells is tumor necrosis factor (TNF), which is known to increase insulin resistance and the production of other inflammatory markers. Etanercept, marketed under the brand name Enbrel, treats several inflammatory disorders by blocking the action of TNF. The current study was designed to see whether using the drug might also reduce the inflammatory effects of metabolic syndrome, as measured by levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), which also has been associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
The researchers enrolled 56 patients ages 37 to 54 who met standard criteria for metabolic syndrome but did not have diabetes, cardiovascular disease or any other inflammatory disorder. Half of them received weekly injections of etanercept and half received a placebo during the four-week study period. On each weekly visit, participants also had a physical examination and blood tests for levels of glucose, insulin and various markers including CRP.
At the end of the study period the CRP levels of participants who received etanercept were 34 percent lower than those of participants receiving the placebo. Levels of Interleukin-6 and fibrinogen, other inflammatory factors associated with increased cardiovascular risk, were also reduced in those who received the active medication; but levels of adiponectin – a factor that reflects reduced inflammation – had increased, also suggesting lower risk. No significant side effects were reported.
"It has been speculated that blocking TNF could reduce systemic inflammation in abdominally obese people, and we are very excited that giving this drug had such a dramatic effect on these major markers," Grinspoon says. "We were surprised that it didn’t also affect insulin resistance, but that could be because the study was only four weeks long. We’re planning longer term studies to get a more complete picture of how this strategy might someday be used to reduce the risks associated with metabolic syndrome." Grinspoon is an associate professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Sue McGreevey | EurekAlert!
Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria
23.05.2017 | Rice University
Discovery of an alga's 'dictionary of genes' could lead to advances in biofuels, medicine
23.05.2017 | University of California - Los Angeles
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.
In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...
Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
17.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.05.2017 | Life Sciences
23.05.2017 | Medical Engineering