Metainflammation Determines Obesity Complications?

I am currently attending the 8th Academic Board Members Meeting of the International Chair on Cardiovascular Risk here in Boston. As always, Jean-Pierre Després (Université Laval), the Scientific Director of this chair, together with the local host, Peter Libby (Brigham and Womens, Harvard), have put together a remarkable program on the role of abdominal obesity in cardiometabolic disease – this time the focus is on inflammation.

Readers of these pages, will be familiar with previous posts on the possible role of inflammation in the development of obesity related complications. This state of low-grade chronic inflammation is particularly found in people with visceral or ectopic fat.

In his presentation, Gokan Hotamisligil (Harvard School of Public Health) used the term “metainflammation” to describe this state of low-grad inflammation that leads to inflammatory response in many tissues and has been postulated to play an important role in the many metabolic alterations like insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, but also atherogenesis in blood vessels that can ultimately precipitate a stroke or heart attack.

I was particularly enamored by the Jean Vague/Per Bjorntorp Award Lecture presented by Wilfred Y. Fujimoto, Professor Emeritus of Medicine, University of Washington, who talked about his remarkable long-term studies on Japanese Americans in which, using sequential computer tomography, his group was able to demonstrate the important role of visceral fat for the striking propensity to develop type 2 diabetes in this ethnic group.

Clearly, this is an area of research, where much remains to be done before we fully understand why some people are more prone to the cardiometabolic complications of obesity than others.

Click here for more on the various activities of the International Chair on Cardiometabolic Risk.

Boston, MA