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!
Unique genome architectures after fertilisation in single-cell embryos
30.03.2017 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH
Transport of molecular motors into cilia
28.03.2017 | Aarhus University
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
30.03.2017 | Health and Medicine
30.03.2017 | Health and Medicine
30.03.2017 | Medical Engineering