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Joslin Study on Metabolic Syndrome

Researchers from the Joslin Diabetes Center have identified insulin resistance in the liver as a key factor that causes metabolic syndrome and one of its associated conditions, atherosclerosis.

Not only do the findings provide an understanding of how metabolic syndrome occurs, but it also pinpoint a target for treatment of the condition. “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 study investigator Dr. C. Ronald Kahn, an internationally recognized researcher in diabetes and metabolism.

Study investigators add that the findings indicate that metabolic syndrome is not merely a collection of abnormalities that should be considered and treated independently, rather, it is a group of closely linked disturbances in glucose and cholesterol metabolism that stem from a defect in insulin signaling in the liver.

Obesity, glucose intolerance, hypertension, low levels of “good” cholesterol, and high levels of triglycerides — all of which are related to insulin resistance — make up the medical problems that identifies metabolic syndrome. Together, these abnormalities are associated with an increased risk of atherosclerosis — the buildup of plaque in the coronary arteries that often results to heart attack and stroke.

Joslin Diabetes Center is the world’s largest diabetes clinic, diabetes research center and provider of diabetes education.

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