INTRODUCTION: Metabolic syndrome (MetS) defines the clustering in an individual of multiple metabolic abnormalities, based on central obesity and insulin resistance. In addition to its five components, prothrombotic and proinflammatory states are essential features. The significance of MetS lies in its close association with the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD). This field being an evolving one necessitated the current review.

AREAS COVERED: The areas covered in this review include the so far unproven concept that enhanced low-grade inflammation often leads to dysfunction of the anti-inflammatory and atheroprotective properties of apolipoprotein A-I (apoA-I) and HDL particles, which further increases the risk of diabetes and CVD. It was emphasized that lifestyle modification is essential in the prevention and management of MetS, which includes maintenance of optimal weight by caloric restriction, adherence to a diet that minimizes postprandial glucose and triglyceride fluctuations, restricting alcohol consumption, smoking cessation and engaging in regular exercise.

Drug therapy should target the dyslipoproteinemia and the often associated hypertension or dysglycemia.Statins are the drugs of first choice, to be initiated in patients with MetS at high 10-year cardiovascular risk. Such treatment is inadequate if fasting serum triglycerides remain at > 150 mg/dl, when niacin should be combined. Fibrates, omega 3 fatty acids, metformin, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and pioglitazone are additional options in drug therapy.

EXPERT OPINION: Research on MetS in subpopulations prone to impaired glucose tolerance and insulin resistance has indicated that proinflammatory state and oxidative stress are often prominently involved in MetS, to the extent that evidence of impaired function of HDL and apo A-I particles is discernible by biological evidence of functional defectiveness via outcomes studies and/or correlations with inflammatory and anti-inflammatory biomarkers. A sex difference has been clear in this development.