Metabolic Syndrome (MetS) Study and Prevention

Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a constellation of risk factors for cardiovascular (CV) disease that includes obesity, hyperlipidemia, insulin resistance and hypertension. MetS doubles the risk of cardiovascular disease, more than triples the risk of cardiovascular mortality and raises the risk of type 2 diabetes by about fivefold.

The prevalence of metabolic syndrome is increasing to epidemic proportions not only in the U.S. and in the urbanized world but also in developing countries. It affects about 34 percent of adults in the U.S. and 20 to 30 percent of the adult population in most countries.

The increased mortality of people with metabolic syndrome, even in its earlier phases, suggests that the initial site of cardiovascular injury in MetS might, in fact, reside in the microcirculation of the heart. However, the mechanism of its momentous effects remains to be defined.

The research team in Dr. Lerman's Renovascular Disease Lab has applied multidetector computerized tomography (MDCT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to assess the effects of metabolic syndrome on the myocardial and renal structure and function both at baseline and during challenge.

The evaluation of microvascular endothelial function has been one of the Renovascular Disease Lab's major goals. Team members also have been utilizing high-resolution micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) to identify early changes of cardiac and renal vasculature.

Dr. Lerman's lab is using cutting-edge MDCT, MRI and micro-CT as well as physiological and biological techniques to study underlying mechanisms of renal and cardiovascular parenchymal injury, microvascular dysfunction and remodeling in unique pig models that develop MetS with a high-cholesterol diet and a sedentary lifestyle.

These studies are clinically significant in that they may shed important light on the mechanisms of development of metabolic syndrome, which could ultimately lead to preventive and therapeutic measures.

Project contact

For more information about the Renovascular Disease Lab's research project on metabolic syndrome, email Xiang Y. Zhu, M.D., Ph.D.