Persistent organic pollutants, mitochondrial dysfunction, and metabolic syndrome

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The number of individuals with metabolic syndrome is increasing worldwide, constituting a major social problem in many countries. Recently, epidemiological and experimental studies have associated insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes with elevated body burdens of persistent organic pollutants (POPs). It has been proposed that mitochondrial dysfunction plays a key role in this association. Mitochondrial DNA abnormalities are known to cause pancreas beta cell damage, insulin resistance, and diabetes mellitus. Recently, much evidence has emerged showing that environmental toxins, including POPs, affect mitochondrial function and subsequently induce insulin resistance. In this review, we present a novel concept in which metabolic syndrome is the result of mitochondrial dysfunction, which in turn is caused by exposure to POPs. The potential mechanism including POPs for mitochondrial dysfunction on metabolic syndrome is also discussed. We propose that the mitochondrial paradigm for the etiology of metabolic syndrome will facilitate the prevention and treatment of this major health problem.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-176
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2010


  • insulin resistance
  • metabolic syndrome
  • mitochondrial dysfunction
  • persistent organic pollutants

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