Are anti-inflammatory drugs an appropriate option for treating obesity?
Obese people with insulin resistance are at high risk of developing disease-related complications like heart attack and stroke. Recently, a significant amount of data has been published linking chronic inflammation with obesity and the etiology of the Metabolic syndrome (MetS). Scientists have found many of the same inflammatory pathways and pro-inflammatory molecules are involved in both conditions. In particular, recent studies have elucidated an important role for the inflammasome in the etiology of these diseases. Interfering with these chronic inflammatory processes may provide a new way to treat obesity. Pilot studies in animals and humans have shown positive outcomes using anti-inflammatory drugs for treatment of both obesity and MetS. One advantage to using anti-inflammatory drugs is that many are already clinically approved with known risk/benefit profiles. Trials to test their efficacy in MetS and obesity are thus feasible. If proven beneficial, these drugs could help treat a huge number of patients who do not currently have other safe options. In this thesis I propose that new drugs targeting the inflammasome components, such as caspase 1, may also show clinical benefit in the treatment of MetS and obesity. Also drugs that reduce activation of a subset of macrophages such as the M1 class may also prove useful in treatment of these conditions.