BACKGROUND:Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is associated with an increased risk of the development of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (CVD). Interleukin-18 (IL-18), which is a pleiotropic proinflammatory cytokine with important regulatory functions in the innate immune response system, plays a crucial role in vascular pathologies. IL-18 is also a predictor of cardiovascular death in patients with CVD and is involved in atherosclerotic plaque destabilization. RESULTS:In order to determine if circulating levels of IL-18 can serve as a specific biomarker for distinguishing MetS patients from pre-MetS subjects, we studied 78 patients with visceral fat deposition and 14 age-matched control subjects. Increased levels of IL-18 were observed more frequently in patients with MetS than in pre-MetS subjects and were positively associated with waist circumference. Serum levels of IL-18 were significantly reduced by a change in weight caused by lifestyle modifications. There was a significant interaction between waist circumference and serum IL-18 concentration. Weight loss of at least 5% of the body weight caused by lifestyle modification decreased IL-18 circulating levels relative to the reduction in waist circumference and blood pressure, suggesting that this degree of weight loss benefits the cardiovascular system. CONCLUSION:IL-18 may be a useful biomarker of the clinical manifestations of MetS and for the management of the risk factors of CVD.
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