Researchers have found the mechanism through which fat cells could protect us against diabetes.
[hana-code-insert name=’StumbleUpon’ /][hana-code-insert name=’Reddit’ /]This research has been published online in the April 1 issue of the journal Nature.
It was already found that fat cells need glucose and thereby help in maintaining the blood sugar and insulin levels. However, obesity often reduces the required amount of glucose reaching the fat cells leading to a form of diabetes in obesity.
Now in this research, researchers have found a gene in fat cells that is essential for systemic effects.
“If we change that one gene, that makes the animal more prone to or more protected from diabetes,” said senior author Barbara Kahn MD, the George R. Minot Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Vice Chair of the Department of Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC). “Many foods get converted into sugar, so there is no need to eat more sugar.”
Researchers worked on the fat gene in the mouse models of human obesity and insulin resistance. They found the similar effects of the gene in the lean as well as obese people.
“Two things were surprising – first, that a lone gene could shift the metabolism of the fat cell so dramatically and then, that turning on this master switch selectively in adipose tissue is beneficial to the whole body,” Kahn said.
“The general conception of fat as all bad is not true,” said first author Mark Herman MD, an Instructor in Medicine at BIDMC and Harvard Medical School (HMS). “Obesity is commonly associated with metabolic dysfunction that puts people at higher risk for diabetes, stroke and heart disease, but there is a large percentage of obese people who are metabolically healthy. We started with a mouse model that disassociates obesity from its adverse effects.”
This new study also points to the protective effect of glucose uptake in human fat.
The research was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, Boston Area Diabetes Endocrinology Research Center, Boston Nutrition Obesity Research Center, the Picower and JPB Foundations, a Fellowship from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschft DFG.
Mark A. Herman, Odile D. Peroni, Jorge Villoria, Michael R. Schön, Nada A. Abumrad, Matthias Blüher, Samuel Klein & Barbara B. Kahn, (2012). A novel ChREBP isoform in adipose tissue regulates systemic glucose metabolism. Nature, doi:10.1038/nature10986