'Good fat' could help manage type 2 diabetes

November 23, 2014

A special type of fat found in some people could be used to manage type 2 diabetes.

Scientists from Monash University and Stockholm University have discovered that brown fat, nicknamed the 'good fat' because it warms up the body in cold temperatures, burning up calories in the process, also 'hoovers up' excess sugar.

The findings, published in The Journal of Cell Biology, are significant for people with type 2 diabetes, whose bodies are unable to respond to insulin properly, resulting in elevated blood glucose levels. Researchers believe that if brown fat cells can be activated, blood glucose levels could be controlled without the need for daily insulin injections.

Lead researcher Dr Masaaki Sato from the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS) said learning more about how brown fat works is critical.

"Brown fat was discovered in adults a few years ago and now research is taking place world-wide to understand why some adults have it and others don't," Dr Sato said.

"In theory if we can find out how to stimulate brown fat into action, we could use it, not only to manage obesity, but type 2 diabetes too. Our findings are at a very early stage but they show real potential to find a new way to manage this disease."

Previously brown fat was thought to be present only in animals and babies, but PET scans of adult patients in 2007 proved otherwise. Located on the back, the upper half of the spine and the shoulders, younger people are more likely to have brown fat than people who are overweight or obese. Brown fat is also known to increase in cold weather and decline in warm environments.

By observing cells, the research team found that following application of a drug that mimics cold exposure, brown fat produces large amounts of a protein that transports glucose into cells, and importantly does so independently of the way insulin transports glucose into these cells. Closer analysis showed brown fat cells produced 10 times the amount of glucose transporters than insulin.

Dr Dana Hutchinson, a co-author on the paper, said what remains unclear is why some people have good fat and others do not.

"We know brown fat absorbs excess glucose in the blood at a much more efficient rate than other mechanisms the body. Unfortunately If you're diabetic you're far less likely to have it," Dr Hutchinson said.

"If we can uncover the mystery of why some people have brown fat, we can then look to develop ways to stimulate its growth."

Potentially the research could lead to a completely new medicine to treat type 2 diabetes, offering an alternative to daily insulin injections.

The next phase of research will see the team investigate the impact of being obese and diabetic on glucose regulation in brown fat.
-end-


Monash University

Related Diabetes Articles from Brightsurf:

New diabetes medication reduced heart event risk in those with diabetes and kidney disease
Sotagliflozin - a type of medication known as an SGLT2 inhibitor primarily prescribed for Type 2 diabetes - reduces the risk of adverse cardiovascular events for patients with diabetes and kidney disease.

Diabetes drug boosts survival in patients with type 2 diabetes and COVID-19 pneumonia
Sitagliptin, a drug to lower blood sugar in type 2 diabetes, also improves survival in diabetic patients hospitalized with COVID-19, suggests a multicenter observational study in Italy.

Making sense of diabetes
Throughout her 38-year nursing career, Laurel Despins has progressed from a bedside nurse to a clinical nurse specialist and has worked in medical, surgical and cardiac intensive care units.

Helping teens with type 1 diabetes improve diabetes control with MyDiaText
Adolescence is a difficult period of development, made more complex for those with Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM).

Diabetes-in-a-dish model uncovers new insights into the cause of type 2 diabetes
Researchers have developed a novel 'disease-in-a-dish' model to study the basic molecular factors that lead to the development of type 2 diabetes, uncovering the potential existence of major signaling defects both inside and outside of the classical insulin signaling cascade, and providing new perspectives on the mechanisms behind insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes and possibly opportunities for the development of novel therapeutics for the disease.

Tele-diabetes to manage new-onset diabetes during COVID-19 pandemic
Two new case studies highlight the use of tele-diabetes to manage new-onset type 1 diabetes in an adult and an infant during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Genetic profile may predict type 2 diabetes risk among women with gestational diabetes
Women who go on to develop type 2 diabetes after having gestational, or pregnancy-related, diabetes are more likely to have particular genetic profiles, suggests an analysis by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and other institutions.

Maternal gestational diabetes linked to diabetes in children
Children and youth of mothers who had gestational diabetes during pregnancy are at increased risk of diabetes themselves, according to new research published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Two diabetes medications don't slow progression of type 2 diabetes in youth
In youth with impaired glucose tolerance or recent-onset type 2 diabetes, neither initial treatment with long-acting insulin followed by the drug metformin, nor metformin alone preserved the body's ability to make insulin, according to results published online June 25 in Diabetes Care.

People with diabetes visit the dentist less frequently despite link between diabetes, oral health
Adults with diabetes are less likely to visit the dentist than people with prediabetes or without diabetes, finds a new study led by researchers at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing and East Carolina University's Brody School of Medicine.

Read More: Diabetes News and Diabetes Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.