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Curr Hypertens Rep. 2008 Dec;10(6):440-7.

Mediators of sympathetic activation in metabolic syndrome obesity.

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Human Neurotransmitters Laboratory, Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, Victoria 8008, Australia.


The metabolic syndrome represents a major public health burden because of its high prevalence in the general population and its association with cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Accumulated evidence based on biochemical, neurophysiologic, and indirect measurements of autonomic activity indicate that visceral obesity and the metabolic syndrome are associated with enhanced sympathetic neural drive and vagal impairment. The mechanisms linking metabolic syndrome with sympathetic activation are complex and not completely understood, and cause-effect relationships need further clarification from prospective trials. Components of the metabolic syndrome that may directly or indirectly enhance sympathetic drive include hyperinsulinemia, leptin, nonesterified fatty acids, proinflammatory cytokines, angiotensinogen, baroreflex impairment, and obstructive sleep apnea. beta-Adrenoceptor polymorphisms have also been associated with adrenoceptor desensitization, increased adiposity, insulin resistance, and enhanced sympathetic activity. Because chronic sympathetic activation contributes to hypertension and its target-organ damage, sympathoinhibition remains an important goal in the therapeutic management of the metabolic syndrome.

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