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Dysmetabolic syndrome X
ICD-9 277.7
OMIM 605552
DiseasesDB 31955
MedlinePlus [1]
eMedicine /
MeSH {{{MeshNumber}}}

Metabolic syndrome is a combination of medical disorders that affect a large number of people in a clustered fashion. In some studies, the prevalence in the USA is calculated as being up to 25% of the population, the end result of which is to increase one's risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.


Other names for this syndrome are:

  • Syndrome X;
  • Metabolic syndrome X;
  • Insulin resistance syndrome;
  • Reaven's Syndrome, after Dr Gerald M. Reaven (who brought attention to the syndrome in 1988 in the Banting lecture, itself named after diabetes pioneer Sir Frederick Banting);
  • CHAOS (Australia);
  • Wohlstandssyndrom (German).

Signs and symptoms

Symptoms and features are:

Associated diseases are:

  • Fatty liver (especially in concurrent obesity).
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome;
  • Hemochromatosis (iron overload);
  • Acanthosis nigricans (a skin condition featuring dark patches);
  • Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (extreme form of fatty liver).


The above diseases are all diagnosed separately; please see the relevant articles. The Adult Treatment Panel III of the United States National Cholesterol Education Program (2001, 2005) defined the diagnosis as three or more of the following five:

  • Increased waist circumference (>=102 cm in men and >=88 cm in women), indicating central obesity
  • Elevated triglycerides (>=150 mg/dL or 1.7 mmol/l)
  • Decreased HDL cholesterol (<40 mg/dL or 1.03 mmol/l for men, <50 mg/dL or 1.29 mmol/l for women)
  • Blood pressure above 130/85 or active treatment for hypertension
  • Glucose levels above 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/l) or active treatment for hyperglycemia

This was followed by a definition from the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) in May, 2005 (3) – apparently intended to replace the 1999 WHO definition. The revised NCEP and IDF definitions of metabolic syndrome are very similar and it can be expected that they will identify many of the same individuals as having metabolic syndrome. The two differences are that IDF requires increased waist circumference, while NCEP does not and the IDF uses geography-specific cutpoints for waist circumference, while NCEP uses only one set of cutpoints for waist circumference regardless of geography. These two definitions are much closer to each other than the original NCEP and WHO definitions.


The causes of metabolic syndrome are extremely complex and have only been partially elucidated. Most patients are older, obese and have a degree of insulin resistance. There is debate regarding whether obesity or insulin resistance is the cause of the metabolic syndrome or a by-product of a more far-reaching metabolic derangement. Systemic inflammation: a number of inflammatory markers (including C-reactive protein) are often increased, as are fibrinogen, InterLeukin−6 (IL−6), Tumor Necrosis Factor alpha (TNFα) and others. Some have pointed to oxidative stress due to dietary fructose mediated increased uric acid levels.[1][2][3]

Commonly, there is development of visceral fat followed by the adipocytes (fat cells) of the visceral fat increasing plasma levels of TNFα. TNFα has been shown to not only cause the production of inflammatory cytokines, but may also trigger cell signalling by interaction with a TNFα receptor that may lead to insulin resistance. An experiment with rats that were fed a diet one-third of which was sucrose has been proposed as a model for the development of the metabolic syndrome. The sucrose first elevated blood levels of triglycerides, which induced visceral fat and ultimately resulted in insulin resistance [4]. Relevance of such studies for humans remains unclear.

1. The World Health Organization criteria (1999) require presence of diabetes mellitus, impaired glucose tolerance, impaired fasting glucose or insulin resistance, AND two of the following: – blood pressure: ≥ 140/90 mmHg – dyslipidaemia: triglycerides (TG): ≥ 1.695 mmol/L and/or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) ≤ 0.9 mmol/L (male), ≤ 1.0 mmol/L (female) – central obesity: waist:hip ratio > 0.90 (male), > 0.85 (female), and/or body mass index > 30 kg/m2 – microalbuminuria: urinary albumin excretion ratio ≥ 20 mg/min or albumin:creatinine ratio ≥ 30 mg/g

2. European Group for the Study of Insulin Resistance (1999) requires insulin resistance defined as the top 25% of the fasting insulin values among non-diabetic individuals AND two or more of the following: – central obesity: waist circumference ≥ 94 cm (male), ≥ 80 cm (female) – dyslipidaemia: TG ≥ 2.0 mmol/L and/or HDL-C < 1.0 mg/dL or treated for dyslipidaemia – hypertension: blood pressure ≥ 140/90 mmHg or antihypertensive medication – fasting plasma glucose ≥ 6.1 mmol/L

3. The National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III (2001) requires at least three of the following: – central obesity: waist circumference ≥ 102 cm (male), ≥ 88 cm (female) – dyslipidaemia: TG ≥ 1.695 mmol/L – dyslipidaemia: HDL-C < 40 mg/dL (male), < 50 mg/dL (female) -- blood pressure ≥ 130/85 mmHg – fasting plasma glucose ≥ 6.1 mmol/L


Main article: The role of psychologists in the management of metabolic disorder

The main treatment is lifestyle (i.e., caloric restriction and physical activity). However, drug treatment may occasionally be necessary. Generally, the individual diseases that comprise the metabolic syndrome are treated separately (e.g. diuretics and ACE inhibitors for hypertension). Cholesterol drugs may be used to lower LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, if they are elevated. Use of drugs that decrease insulin resistance e.g., metformin and thiazolidinediones is controversial and generally not an approved use.


The term "metabolic syndrome" dates back to at least the late 1950's, but came into common usage in the late 1970's to describe various associations of risk factors with diabetes, that had been noted as early as the 1920's.

  • The Marseilles physician, Dr. Jean Vague, in 1956, made the interesting observation that upper body obesity appeared to predispose to diabetes, atherosclerosis, gout, and calculi.
  • Avogaro, Crepaldi and co-workers described six moderately obese patients with diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, and marked hypertriglyceridemia all of which improved when the patients were put on a hypocaloric, low carbohydrate diet.
  • In 1977, Haller used the term “metabolic syndrome” for associations of obesity, diabetes mellitus, hyperlipoproteinemia, hyperuricemia and steatosis hepatis when describing the additive effects of risk factors on atherosclerosis.
  • The same year, Singer used the term for associations of obesity, gout, diabetes mellitus, and hypertension with hyperlipoprotenemia.
  • In 1977 and 1978, Dr. Gerald B. Phillips developed the concept that risk factors for myocardial infarction concur to form a "constellation of abnormalities" ( i.e., glucose intolerance, hyperinsulinemia, hyperlipidemia [hypercholesterolemia and hypertriglyceridemia] and hypertension) that is associated not only with heart disease, but also with aging, obesity and other clinical states. He suggested there must be an underlying linking factor, the identification of which could lead to the prevention of cardiovascular disease; he hypothesized that this factor was sex hormones.
  • In 1988, in his Banting lecture, Dr. Gerald M. Reaven proposed insulin resistance as the underlying factor and named the constellation of abnormalities Syndrome X. Reaven did not include abdominal obesity, which has also been hypothesized as the underlying factor, as part of the condition.

The terms “metabolic syndrome”, “insulin resistance syndrome”, and “Syndrome X” are now used specifically to define a constellation of abnormalities that is associated with increased risk for the development of type 2 diabetes and atherosclerotic vascular disease (e.g., heart disease and stroke). Its etiology remains unknown.

See also


  1. Nakagawa T, Hu H, Zharikov S, Tuttle KR, Short RA, Glushakova O, Ouyang X, Feig DI, Block ER, Herrera-Acosta J, Patel JM, Johnson RJ (2006). A causal role for uric acid in fructose-induced metabolic syndrome. American Journal of Physiology. Renal Physiology 290 (3): F625–F631. PMID 16234313.
  2. Hallfrisch J (1990). Metabolic effects of dietary fructose. The FASEB Journal 4 (9): 2652–2660. PMID 15169967.
  3. Reiser S, Powell AS, Scholfield DJ, Panda P, Ellwood KC, Canary JJ (1989). Blood lipids, lipoproteins, apoproteins, and uric acid in men fed diets containing fructose or high-amylose cornstarch. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 49 (5): 832–839. PMID 2497634.
  4. Fukuchi S, Hamaguchi K, Seike M, Himeno K, Sakata T, Yoshimatsu H. (2004). Role of Fatty Acid Composition in the Development of Metabolic Disorders in Sucrose-Induced Obese Rats. Experimental Biology and Medicine 229 (6): 486–493. PMID 15169967.
  • Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults. Executive Summary of The Third Report of The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, And Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol In Adults (Adult Treatment Panel III). JAMA 2001;285:2486-97. PMID 11368702.
  • Grundy SM, Cleeman JI, Daniels SR, Donato KA, Eckel RH, Franklin BA, Gordon DJ, Krauss RM, Savage PJ, Smith SC Jr, Spertus JA, Costa F. Diagnosis and Management of the Metabolic Syndrome. An American Heart Association/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Scientific Statement. Circulation. 2005 Sep 12; [Epub ahead of print]
  • The IDF consensus worldwide definition of the metabolic syndrome. Available from
  • Grundy SM. Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome and Cardiovascular Disease. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2004;89:2595-600. PMID 15181029.
  • Phillips GB, Jing TJ, Heymsfield SB: Relationships in men of sex hormones, insulin, adiposity, and risk factors for myocardial infarction. Metabolism 52:784-790, 2003
  • Reaven GM. Banting lecture 1988. Role of insulin resistance in human disease. Diabetes 1988;37:1595-607. PMID 3056758.
  • Zavaroni I, Dall’aglio E, Bonora E, Alpi O, Passeri M, Reaven GM: Evidence that multiple risk factors for coronary artery disease exist in persons with abnormal glucose tolerance. Am J Med 83:609-612, 1987
  • Phillips GB: Sex hormones, risk factors and cardiovascular disease. Am J Med 65:7-11, 1978
  • Phillips GB: Relationship between serum sex hormones and glucose, insulin, and lipid abnormalities in men with myocardial infarction. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 74:1729-1733, 1977
  • Vague J. The degree of masculine differentiation of obesities: A factor determining predisposition to diabetes, atherosclerosis, gout, and uric calculous disease. Am J Clin Nutr 4:20-34, 1956
  • Avogaro P, Crepaldi G, Enzi G, Tiengo A. Associazione di iperlipidemia, diabete mellito e obesità di medio grado. Acta Diabetol Lat 1967;4:572-590.
  • Haller H. Epidemiologie und assoziierte Risikofaktoren der Hyperlipoproteinamie. [Epidemiology and associated risk factors of hyperlipoproteinemia] Z Gesamte Inn Med. 1977 Apr 15; 32(8): 124-8.
  • Singer P. Zur Diagnostik der primaren Hyperlipoproteinamien. [Diagnosis of primary hyperlipoproteinemias] Z Gesamte Inn Med. 1977 May 1; 32(9): 129-33 concl.
  • Kylin E: Studies of the hypertension-hyperglycemia-hyperuricemia syndrome. Zentralblatt fuer Innere Medizin. 1923; 44: 105-27.
  • Joslin EP. The prevention of diabetes mellitus. JAMA 76:79–84, 1921

External links

de:Metabolisches Syndrom
es:Síndrome metabólico
sv:Metabolt syndrom
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