Pablo I Altieri*, Jose Marcial, Hector L Banchs, Nelson Escobales and María Crespo
Departments of Medicine, Physiology and Surgery, University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Received: 09 June, 2015; Accepted: 27 October, 2015; Published: 29 October, 2015
Pablo I Altieri, MD, Box 8387, Humacao, Puerto Rico 00792, Tel: (787) 630-7638; Fax: (787) 725-6423; E-mail:
Altieri PI, Marcial J, Banchs HL, Escobales N, Crespo M (2015) The Metabolic Syndrome in Hispanics – The Role of Inflammation. Glob J Obes Diabetes Metab Syndr 2(1): 012-017.10.17352/2455-8583.000009
© 2015 Altieri PI, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Inflammation; Metabolic Syndrome; Insulin Resistance
MetS: Metabolic Syndrome; CHD: Cardiac Heart Disease; DNA: Deoxyribonucleic Acid; BDNF: Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor; PR: Puerto Rico; US: United States; RAS: Renin Angiotensin System; AngI: Angiotensin I; Ang II: Angiotensin II; E1: Endothelin 1; ACE: Angiotensin Converting Enzyme; ARBs: Angiotensin Receptor Blockers; AGEs: Advanced Glycation End Products; DMT2: Diabetes Mellitus Type 2; AT1: Angiotensin receptor Type 1; AT2: Angiotensin receptor Type 2; EPA: Ecosapentaenoic Acid; OHA: Docosahexaenoic Acid; TNF:a: Tumor Necrosis Factor:a; IL:6: Interleukin:6; CRP: C: Reactive Protein; BMI: Body Mass Index; SCD1: Stearoyl Coenzyme A Desaturase 1; TC: Total Cholesterol; LDL: Low Density Lipoprotein; HDL: Highe Density Lipoprotein; FBS: Fasting Blood Sugar;
We report clinical and molecular mechanisms relating the pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory process in the development of the components of the metabolic syndrome, emphasizing the cardiovascular problems developed in these groups of patients, especially the Hispanic population. Namely, the incidence, component characteristics and complications of the metabolic syndrome in island Puerto Ricans are described and evidence is presented supporting the fact that the metabolic syndrome may be milder in Puerto Rico than in the mainland United States because it is characterized by less aggressive coronary artery disease and a relatively normal lipid profile. Moreover, data supports the fact that increased serum cholesterol levels produce less myocardial infarctions in Puerto Rico than in mainland Hispanics and Caucasians. In addition, the incidence of ventricular tachycardia, a complication caused by remodeling and ischemia of the heart, may be lower in Puerto Rico than in the United States, although the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome is higher in the island.
The acknowledgment of the metabolic syndrome (MetS) as a pathological entity is one of the most important advancements in the management of cardiovascular disease in the last 2 decades. Three of 5 following risk factors establishes the diagnosis: 1) Elevated waist circumference of 102cm or more in men and 88cm or more in women, 2) triglyceride count equal or greater than 150 mg/dL, 3) high density lipoprotein (HDL) level less than 40 mg/dL in men and 50 mg/dl in women, 4) blood pressure equal or greater to 130/85 mmHg, and 5) a fasting blood glucose equal or greater than 100 mg/dL. Increasing awareness and research of this syndrome has led to a deeper understanding of how different metabolic risk factors such as inflammation, insulin resistance and vascular pathologies such as coronary heart disease (CHD) interact and aggravate one another. The existence of MetS may imply uniformity in pathology across a range of populations. However, this is not the case: the mechanisms that underlie MetS and the cardio metabolic consequences they hold may very well vary between ethnicities. The following paper aims to encompass MetS from its most fundamental principles with a focus on inflammation and insulin resistance to the novel research pertaining to its pathophysiology and management, with an emphatic eye on the Hispanic population and inflammation.
Metabolic syndrome in hispanics
The inner workings of MetS have yet to be fully elucidated; thus it remains difficult to evaluate how they differ between specific ethnic populations. Nevertheless, it remains a possibility that the processes involved in the syndrome, such as inflammation and insulin resistance, differ in degree and function with relation to Hispanic compared to non-Hispanic populations. It has been a recurring theme that the interactions between poor nutritional status, physical inactivity, and genetic predisposition might contribute to the disparities in the prevalence and characteristics of MetS and its components between ethnicities and the subgroups within; this subject has been studied to the extent that even the diagnostic criteria for MetS established by the AHA/NHLBI has been challenged when adapted to specific Andean population . Moreover, researchers have found that a single DNA variation in the form of a guanine base pair on a gene already linked to a higher risk of Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) in other races confers a fivefold reduction in risk in African-Americans . Lately, research has uncovered mutations in the Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene, or Bdnf gene, which result in human obesity . Mice having a truncated long Bdnf 3′ UTR genetic transcript developed severe hyperphagic obesity. All these studies, whether they involve humans or mice, provide a window into a genetic basis for MetS.
Despite the obvious limits of studying a population that does not represent the entire Hispanic world, investigations exploring cardiovascular disease and MetS in Puerto Rico (P.R.) provide invaluable information in understanding the interrelationship between genetics, environment and culture in the modification of cardiovascular health. Previous data support the fact that, given the same cardiovascular risk factors, Puerto Rico has a lower prevalence of CHD than other fully industrialized countries such as the United States , however, the validity of these data may not be as strong today as when published nearly 3 decades ago: recent epidemiologic data show that, although mortality from CHD and stroke has been steadily decreasing in the United States in the past 4 decades, it has been increasing in Puerto Rico . On the other hand, a recent investigation that examined the medical records of 173 patients with MetS who received treatment in the Cardiovascular Center of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean showed that these patients were devoid of aggressive CHD, meaning less ventricular tachycardia, less myocardial infarctions and less strokes, and had a relatively normal lipid profile (except for a mild elevation in serum triglycerides) , supporting the notion that island-based Puerto Ricans acquire a milder form of MetS than mainland populations (this notion extends to Hispanics and Caucasians living in the continental U.S.). Furthermore, several investigators have reported that the incidence of ventricular tachycardia, a complication caused by remodeling and ischemia of the heart, is lower in Puerto Rico than in the U.S.A. , even when adjusting for a higher prevalence of MetS in Puerto Rico . Interestingly, the number of cases recorded in this study showed an increased incidence of atrial fibrillation ; this may be thought to be a result of differential remodeling of the left ventricle and atrial function between ethnicities. In addition, the prevalence of CHD is lower in P.R than in the U.S.A., despite a higher incidence of Diabetes Mellitus in the island than in the U.S. (16% vs. 8%). Nonetheless, the prevalence of CHD in P.R. is increasing: In the 1980s, it was 50% lower than in the United States; it is only 30% lower today . This is most likely due to external factors such as the increasingly unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle of many of the island’s inhabitants.
Importance of the Renin-Angiotensin System (RAS)
The RAS is a complicated and essential system in the regulation of vascular homeostasis. Angiotensin II (AngII) is cleaved from angiotensin I (AngI) by angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE), which is localized on the surface of endothelial cells and in the media and adventitia of the aorta , a soluble form of ACE is also found in plasma. Ang I is formed from angiotensinogen, which is secreted from the liver and cleaved by renin, which in turn is found in the juxta-glomerular cells in the kidney . The traditional RAS inhibitors, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors) and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), target the main RAS axis described above. However, there are additional enzymes associated with the production of AngII, such as by Cathepsin G , as well as other, more novel angiotensin molecules that serve as potential therapeutic targets: the ACE2/Ang-(1–9) axis is a new and important pathway to compensate for the vasoconstrictive and hyper proliferative RAS axis. A direct mechanism implicated in the production of these distinctive angiotensin molecules involves ACE2 , a novel component of the RAS that converts AngI to Ang-(1-9) and AngII to Ang-(1-7), a peptide with vasodilator and anti-proliferative properties. The induction of ACE2 not only holds therapeutic promise by producing the anti-inflammatory Ang-(1-7), but also by reducing AngII levels, thereby inflammation conferring a twofold protection against cardiovascular remodeling from ongoing hypertension and inflammation.
Concomitant to the progression of the RAS, hyperglycemia promotes the deposition of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) that are formed from the non-enzymatic glycation of proteins and lipids after contact with reducing sugars . The accumulation of AGEs is an important factor in the development and progression of vascular injury in diabetes-associated atherosclerosis. Both hyperglycemia and induction of the main RAS axis will increase inflammation and oxidative stress increasing the rate of the atherosclerotic process that ultimately end in apoptosis and necrosis of myocytes [16,17], hence propagating the deleterious effects of inflammation, insulin resistance and endothelial dysfunction.
The inhibition of the RAS by ACE inhibitors and ARBs has been mainstay therapy to reduce the onset and/or progression of hypertension, left ventricular dysfunction, diabetic renal disease and atherosclerosis, because this effect will reduce inflammation. For example, inhibitors of the RAS seem to be more effective than other medications in halting the progression of dilated cardiomyopathy in hamsters that have an inherited mutation that predisposes to such a disease . In rodents, pharmacological or genetic disruption of RAS action prevents weight-gain, promotes insulin sensitivity and relieves hypertension , suggesting that ACE inhibitors or ARBs may present an effective treatment for MetS in humans. In addition, when obese individuals lose weight, both adipose tissue mass and systemic RAS activity are reduced and altered [20-23].
Inflammation- insulin resistance- new data
This elevation of AngII and EI will activate angiotensin II receptor type 1 (AT1) (Figure 1) and produce inflammatory cytokines, increase macrophage chemo-attractants and activate reactive oxygen species that produce oxidative stress in myocytes and smooth muscle cells . This will not only induce the apoptosis and necrosis of myocytes, but also promote the proliferation and migration of smooth muscle cells, resulting in the atherosclerotic lesions that increase the incidence of myocardial infarcts . Likewise, AngII, acting via angiotensin II receptor type 2 (AT2), has potent pro-inflammatory, pro-oxidant and pro-thrombotic effects . Moreover, it has been shown that infusion of AngII in rats increases serum levels of AGEs. The oxidative and apoptotic effects of both hyperglycemia and AngII are most likely key in inducing diabetic cardiomyopathy , which explains why our patients with MetS have a subnormal ejection fraction, as opposed to the patients without Mets who have a normal ejection fraction, despite normal coronary arteries in both groups. Also, the incidence of atrial fibrillation was 16% in our MetS group. Inflammatory pathways produce electrical and structural atrial remodeling and fibrosis culminating in the development of atrial fibrillation.
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