About the Meeting
On March 11, 2017, in Baltimore, Maryland, SOT hosted a Contemporary Concepts in Toxicology (CCT) meeting on metabolic syndrome and associated diseases.
The organizing committee was comprised of Donna L. Mendrick, PhD, Chair, US Food and Drug Administration, National Center for Toxicological Research, Silver Spring, MD; Susan G. Emeigh Hart, VMD, PhD, Co-Chair, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc., Ridgefield, CT; Florence G. Burleson, PhD, BRT Burleson Research Technologies Inc, Morrisville, NC; Rodney R. Dietert, PhD, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York; Kenneth L. Hastings, MPH, DrPH, Hastings Toxicology Consulting LLC, Mount Airy, MD; Thomas B. Knudsen, PhD, US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, Research Triangle Park, NC; Thaddeus Schug, PhD, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, NC; Lisa Swartz Topor, MD, MMSc, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI; Charlene McQueen, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, SOT Liaison, CCT Conferences Committee; and Paul Foster, PhD, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, NC.
In addition to SOT, the meeting was supported by the Scientific Liaison Coalition (Diamond Level), BRT Burleson Research Technologies Inc. (Gold Level), National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) (Gold Level), American College of Toxicology (ACT) (Silver Level), Charles River (Silver Level), Gilead (Silver Level), Merck (Silver Level), and Society of Toxicologic Pathology (STP) (Silver Level). The meeting was endorsed by the Endocrine Society.
Vision and Background
Metabolic syndrome is defined by a combination of risk factors that can lead to greater potential of type 2 diabetes, obesity, lipid disorders, cardiovascular disease, and other circulatory disorders. There is currently a significant research focus to understand the key pathways that control metabolism, as these pathways would be likely targets of risk factors (e.g., exposure to xenobiotics, genetics) and lifestyle factors (e.g., microbiome, nutrition, exercise). Understanding these pathways also can lead to the development of pharmaceutical interventions. Individuals with metabolic syndrome have signs similar to that of toxic responses (e.g., oxidative stress, inflammation) and organ dysfunction. Given the rapidly growing incidence of this syndrome, it is critical to understand these widespread abnormalities as it changes our definition of “normal.” This syndrome can be driven by fat accumulation around intra-abdominal sites (possibly driven by genetic and epigenetic factors leading to predisposition of retaining fat at this site due to poor intra-uterine growth), organ impairment (e.g., non-alcoholic fatty liver disease), and exposure to xenobiotics. While the causes for escalation in the individual risk factors are multiple and complex, there is no clear recognition of the bridges that unite these risk factors to yield increased disease. Indeed, it is likely that there are pathways that are of importance to controlling metabolism that would be targets of both environmental chemicals and pharmaceutical interventions. A multidisciplinary approach to understand the underlying biological mechanisms and translate that knowledge into prevention and treatment is required.
During the morning sessions of this conference, current knowledge on metabolic diseases, including developmental aspects and challenges in therapeutic strategies for associated diseases, was examined. A poster session during lunch provided a forum for data and hypothesis exchange. The afternoon was devoted to a discussion of mechanisms thought to play important roles in the syndrome/diseases and provide insight into drugs and environmental agents thought to influence them. Our focus on understanding the pathways and risk factors leading to disease and how these pathways can be perturbed to develop drugs for disease interventions creates a unique combination that is likely to lead to new thought processes and scientific collaborations in addition to defining knowledge gaps, identifying research needs, protecting public health, and empowering product development.
The specific objectives of this conference included the following:
- Providing a better understanding of metabolic syndrome and associated disease entities, their unifying factors, and mechanisms behind the pathology that could enable the development of safer drugs and understanding of problematic environmental toxicants. Attendees learned about this syndrome (probably many for the first time as most focus on one organ type), the role development plays, associated diseases, challenges in therapeutic strategies, and mechanisms behind their onset.
- Serving as a “melting pot” to expose individuals to a syndrome, its associated diseases, challenges in therapeutic interventions, role of toxicity of environmental chemicals or drugs, and mechanisms. Since this meeting addressed multiple aspects (bench to bedside), it hoped to lead to new collaborations across these generally “siloed” domains with the goal of improving public health.
Some conference materials are restricted and only may be accessed by individuals who registered to attend “Metabolic Syndrome and Associated Diseases: From the Bench to the Clinic.”
Metabolic Syndrome Program