Metabolic syndrome in transplant patients: an academic or a health burden?

Abstract

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of risk factors that predispose to major cardiovascular diseases, liver steatosis and fibrosis, as well as reduced renal function. Metabolic syndrome and its early hepatic manifestation, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, are prevalent both among the general population and in pre- and posttransplantation settings. Because indications for solid-organ transplantation are gradually increasing, attention should focus on the incidence of metabolic syndrome among transplanted patients, defined as posttransplant metabolic syndrome (PTMS). Subjects with worse metabolic profiles with two or more criteria of the syndrome show lower survival rates and greater co-morbidities. However, it is still unclear whether the pathophysiology of posttransplantation metabolic syndrome differ from that of the general population and may be determined by the primary disease affecting the liver or kidney, or amplified or altered by the immunosuppressive treatment, as it has already been established that corticosteroids and calcineurin inhibitors cause metabolic disarrangements. Although there is controversy regarding the definition and the impact of PTMS on overall survival rates following transplantation, these patients are at increased risk for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Early recognition, prevention, and treatment of these conditions may impact long-term survival after transplantation. Thus, even if metabolic syndrome in transplant patients remains an unclear definition, an insulin resistance is present in these patients. The treatment of this condition represents a health problem that requires intervention by clinicians before and after transplantation.

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