The study of “Metabolic Syndrome” was selected based on its important public health implications. Metabolic syndrome is defined as the human condition characterized by the presence of co-existing traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD), such as hypertension, dyslipidemia, and glucoseint olerance, obesity, and insulin resistance, as well as additional non-traditional risk factors. Insulin resistance, defined as a clinical state in which a normal or elevated insulin level produces an impaired biologic response, is considered to be a hallmark for the presence of metabolic syndrome and represents a target-tissue (i.e. skeletal muscle) defect in insulin action. The cellular mechanisms that contribute to insulin resistance are not fully understood, but evolving concepts suggest that skeletal muscle defects are not isolated in development of this syndrome, and that liver and adipose tissue function both play major roles.
The presence of metabolic syndrome in any given individual has considerable public health significance as the condition contributes to increased morbidity and mortality on several levels. The staggering increase in the prevalence of obesity and Type 2 diabetes has now reached epidemic proportions. The fact that the components of metabolic syndrome have become increasingly prevalent in children, and the recent data suggesting development of microvascular complications long before the development of Type 2 diabetes means that metabolic syndrome has been, and will continue to be, one of the most important public health problems facing society. Given the known complications for metabolic syndrome, it is imperative that we implement effective strategies to improve the underlying pathophysiologic factors contributing to the development of the condition. As such, our basic and mechanistic study of botanicals and their effects to modulate pathologic processes leading to the development of the metabolic syndrome has great potential for being translated into practical benefits for human health.