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Unraveling the Mechanisms Responsible for the Comorbidity between Metabolic Syndrome and Mental Health Disorders

Nousen E.K.a · Franco J.G.a · Sullivan E.L.a, b

Author affiliations

aDivision of Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism, Oregon National Primate Research Center, Beaverton, Oreg., and bDepartment of Biology, University of Portland, Portland, Oreg., USA

Corresponding Author

Elinor L. Sullivan

University of Portland

5000 N. Willamette Blvd.

Portland, OR 97203 (USA)

E-Mail sullivae@up.edu

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Neuroendocrinology 2013;98:254-266

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The increased prevalence and high comorbidity of metabolic syndrome (MetS) and mental health disorders (MHDs) have prompted investigation into the potential contributing mechanisms. There is a bidirectional association between MetS and MHDs including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and autism spectrum disorders. Medication side effects and social repercussions are contributing environmental factors, but there are a number of shared underlying neurological and physiological mechanisms that explain the high comorbidity between these two disorders. Inflammation is a state shared by both disorders, and it contributes to disruptions of neuroregulatory systems (including the serotonergic, dopaminergic, and neuropeptide Y systems) as well as dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. MetS in pregnant women also exposes the developing fetal brain to inflammatory factors that predispose the offspring to MetS and psychopathologies. Due to the shared nature of these conditions, treatment should address aspects of both mental health and metabolic disorders. Additionally, interventions that can interrupt the transfer of increased risk of the disorders to the next generation need to be developed.

© 2013 S. Karger AG, Basel


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Article / Publication Details

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Abstract of At the Cutting Edge

Received: April 08, 2013
Accepted: September 10, 2013
Published online: September 21, 2013
Issue release date: March 2014

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ISSN: 0028-3835 (Print)
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