Inflammation and insulin resistance: New targets encourage new thinking

Bioessays 39 (9):1700036 (2017)
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Galectin-3 and LTB4 are pro-inflammatory molecules recently shown to directly cause insulin resistance in mouse and human cells. They are highly expressed in the obese state, and can be targeted both genetically and pharmacologically to improve insulin sensitivity in vivo. This expands on previous research showing that targeting inflammatory cytokines can be insulin sensitizing in animal models. However, translating these potential therapies into the human setting remains challenging. Here we review this latest research, and discuss how balancing their pleiotropic functions, the action of the microbiome, and the ability to identify relevant patient populations are vital considerations for successful anti-inflammatory insulin sensitizing therapy. Recent advances have indicated that a diverse range of inflammatory molecules, including leukotriene B4 and Galectin-3 can cause insulin resistance. Key challenges for translating these new targets into therapies include their pleiotropic effects and likely patient heterogeneity, such as is caused by the intestinal microbiome.



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