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      Metabolic syndrome: definitions and controversies


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          Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a complex disorder defined by a cluster of interconnected factors that increase the risk of cardiovascular atherosclerotic diseases and diabetes mellitus type 2. Currently, several different definitions of MetS exist, causing substantial confusion as to whether they identify the same individuals or represent a surrogate of risk factors. Recently, a number of other factors besides those traditionally used to define MetS that are also linked to the syndrome have been identified. In this review, we critically consider existing definitions and evolving information, and conclude that there is still a need to develop uniform criteria to define MetS, so as to enable comparisons between different studies and to better identify patients at risk. As the application of the MetS model has not been fully validated in children and adolescents as yet, and because of its alarmingly increasing prevalence in this population, we suggest that diagnosis, prevention and treatment in this age group should better focus on established risk factors rather than the diagnosis of MetS.

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          Most cited references113

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          Banting lecture 1988. Role of insulin resistance in human disease.

          G M Reaven (1988)
          Resistance to insulin-stimulated glucose uptake is present in the majority of patients with impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) or non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) and in approximately 25% of nonobese individuals with normal oral glucose tolerance. In these conditions, deterioration of glucose tolerance can only be prevented if the beta-cell is able to increase its insulin secretory response and maintain a state of chronic hyperinsulinemia. When this goal cannot be achieved, gross decompensation of glucose homeostasis occurs. The relationship between insulin resistance, plasma insulin level, and glucose intolerance is mediated to a significant degree by changes in ambient plasma free-fatty acid (FFA) concentration. Patients with NIDDM are also resistant to insulin suppression of plasma FFA concentration, but plasma FFA concentrations can be reduced by relatively small increments in insulin concentration. Consequently, elevations of circulating plasma FFA concentration can be prevented if large amounts of insulin can be secreted. If hyperinsulinemia cannot be maintained, plasma FFA concentration will not be suppressed normally, and the resulting increase in plasma FFA concentration will lead to increased hepatic glucose production. Because these events take place in individuals who are quite resistant to insulin-stimulated glucose uptake, it is apparent that even small increases in hepatic glucose production are likely to lead to significant fasting hyperglycemia under these conditions. Although hyperinsulinemia may prevent frank decompensation of glucose homeostasis in insulin-resistant individuals, this compensatory response of the endocrine pancreas is not without its price. Patients with hypertension, treated or untreated, are insulin resistant, hyperglycemic, and hyperinsulinemic. In addition, a direct relationship between plasma insulin concentration and blood pressure has been noted. Hypertension can also be produced in normal rats when they are fed a fructose-enriched diet, an intervention that also leads to the development of insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia. The development of hypertension in normal rats by an experimental manipulation known to induce insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia provides further support for the view that the relationship between the three variables may be a causal one.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)
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            Metabolic syndrome and risk of incident cardiovascular events and death: a systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies.

            The purpose of this research was to assess the association between the metabolic syndrome (MetSyn) and cardiovascular events and mortality by meta-analyses of longitudinal studies. Controversy exists regarding the cardiovascular risk associated with MetSyn. We searched electronic reference databases through March 2005, studies that referenced Reaven's seminal article, abstracts presented at meetings in 2003 to 2004, and queried experts. Two reviewers independently assessed eligibility. Longitudinal studies reporting associations between MetSyn and cardiovascular events or mortality were eligible. Two reviewers independently used a standardized form to collect data from published reports. Authors were contacted. Study quality was assessed by the control of selection, detection, and attrition biases. We found 37 eligible studies that included 43 cohorts (inception 1971 to 1997) and 172,573 individuals. Random effects meta-analyses showed MetSyn had a relative risk (RR) of cardiovascular events and death of 1.78 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.58 to 2.00). The association was stronger in women (RR 2.63 vs. 1.98, p = 0.09), in studies enrolling lower risk (<10%) individuals (RR 1.96 vs. 1.43, p = 0.04), and in studies using factor analysis or the World Health Organization definition (RR 2.68 and 2.06 vs. 1.67 for National Cholesterol Education Program definition and 1.35 for other definitions; p = 0.005). The association remained after adjusting for traditional cardiovascular risk factors (RR 1.54, 95% CI 1.32 to 1.79). The best available evidence suggests that people with MetSyn are at increased risk of cardiovascular events. These results can help clinicians counsel patients to consider lifestyle interventions, and should fuel research of other preventive interventions.
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              Risks for all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes associated with the metabolic syndrome: a summary of the evidence.

              E. Ford (2005)
              In recent years, several major organizations have endorsed the concept of the metabolic syndrome and developed working definitions for it. How well these definitions predict the risk for adverse events in people with the metabolic syndrome is only now being learned. The purpose of this study was to summarize the estimates of relative risk for all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes reported from prospective studies in samples from the general population using definitions of the metabolic syndrome developed by the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) and World Health Organization (WHO). The author reviewed prospective studies from July 1998 through August 2004. For studies that used the exact NCEP definition of the metabolic syndrome, random-effects estimates of combined relative risk were 1.27 (95% CI 0.90-1.78) for all-cause mortality, 1.65 (1.38-1.99) for cardiovascular disease, and 2.99 (1.96-4.57) for diabetes. For studies that used the most exact WHO definition of the metabolic syndrome, the fixed-effects estimates of relative risk were 1.37 (1.09-1.74) for all-cause mortality and 1.93 (1.39-2.67) for cardiovascular disease; the fixed-effects estimate was 2.60 (1.55-4.38) for coronary heart disease. These estimates suggest that the population-attributable fraction for the metabolic syndrome, as it is currently conceived, is approximately 6-7% for all-cause mortality, 12-17% for cardiovascular disease, and 30-52% for diabetes. Further research is needed to establish the use of the metabolic syndrome in predicting risk for death, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes in various population subgroups.

                Author and article information

                BMC Med
                BMC Medicine
                BioMed Central
                5 May 2011
                : 9
                : 48
                [1 ]Department of Biochemistry, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece
                [2 ]First Department of Paediatrics, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece
                [3 ]Department of Pathophysiology, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece
                Copyright ©2011 Kassi et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 6 January 2011
                : 5 May 2011



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