A Potential Role for Pro-Inflammatory Cytokines in the Development of Insulin Resistance in Horses
Suagee, Jessica K.
Corl, Benjamin A.
Geor, Raymond J.
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Understanding the mechanisms involved in the development of insulin resistance in horses should enable development of effective treatment and prevention strategies. Current knowledge of these mechanisms is based upon research in obese humans and rodents, in which there is evidence that the increased production of pro-inflammatory cytokines by adipose tissue negatively influences insulin signaling in insulin-responsive tissues. In horses, plasma concentrations of the cytokine, tumor necrosis factor-α, have been positively correlated with body fatness and insulin resistance, leading to the hypothesis that inflammation may reduce insulin sensitivity in horses. However, little evidence has documented a tissue site of production and a direct link between inflammation and induction of insulin resistance has not been established. Several mechanisms are reviewed in this article, including the potential for macrophage infiltration, hyperinsulinemia, hypoxia, and lipopolysaccharide to increase pro-inflammatory cytokine production by adipose tissue of obese horses. Clearly defining the role of cytokines in reduced insulin sensitivity of horses will be a very important step in determining how obesity and insulin resistance are related.