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Trigger linking obesity to diabetes discovered

By Tim Sandle     Mar 15, 2013 in Science
Scientists have speculated for a while that the inflammation of fat tissue is part of a series of events that leads to the development of type 2 diabetes in some obese people. Until now, however, they have not identified the trigger for this.
It has been established for several decades that high calorie diets cause fat cells in the human body to make something called major histocompatibility complex II (MCH II). This is a group of proteins that are usually expressed to help the body’s immune system fight off pathogens like viruses and bacteria.
What scientists have found, according to the research note, is that in overweight people the fat cells (adipocytes) begin to issue a type of false distress signal; that is, they are not under attack from pathogens but they biochemically begin to behave as if they were. This effect causes inflammation. This in turn can cause type II diabetes.
Type II diabetes is characterized by high blood glucose in the context of insulin resistance and relative insulin deficiency. Obesity is thought to be the primary cause of type II diabetes in people who are genetically predisposed to the disease
The scientists came to their conclusions after studying fat cells from obese, female humans (via biopsy) and overfed male mice. The cells were subjected to a special method called subjected to microarray analysis.
The implication of the finding is that it could lead to new drugs that can target specific causes of obesity, by blocking the MHCII response in fat cells. Such a drug would not be cure for obesity, but it would help to alleviate certain symptoms.
The research was undertaken at the U.S. Methodist Diabetes & Metabolism Institute, led by Willa Hsueh, M.D, and findings have been published in the journal Cell Metabolism.
More about Obesity, Diabetes, type 2 diabetes, fat cells, Fat
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