Review

Why do anti-inflammatory therapies fail to improve insulin sensitivity?

Authors: Zhan-guo Gao, Jian-ping Ye
DOI: 10.1038/aps.2011.131

Abstract

Chronic inflammation occurs in obese conditions in both humans and animals. It also contributes to the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes (T2D) through insulin resistance, a status in which the body loses its ability to respond to insulin. Inflammation impairs insulin signaling through the functional inhibition of IRS-1 and PPARĪ³. Insulin sensitizers (such as rosiglitazone and pioglitazone) inhibit inflammation while improving insulin sensitivity. Therefore, anti-inflammatory agents have been suggested as a treatment strategy for insulin resistance. This strategy has been tested in laboratory studies and clinical trials for more than 10 years; however, no significant progress has been made in any of the model systems. This status has led us to re-evaluate the biological significance of chronic inflammation in obesity. Recent studies have consistently asserted that obesity-associated inflammation helps to maintain insulin sensitivity. Inflammation stimulates local adipose tissue remodeling and promotes systemic energy expenditure. We propose that these beneficial activities of inflammation provide an underlying mechanism for the failure of anti-inflammatory therapy in the treatment of insulin resistance. Current literature will be reviewed in this article to present evidence that supports this viewpoint.
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