Emerging

UCSD researchers discover inflammation, not obesity, cause of insulin resistance

Public release date: 6-Nov-2007

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine have discovered that inflammation provoked by immune cells called macrophages leads to insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes. Their discovery may pave the way to novel drug development to fight the epidemic of Type 2 diabetes associated with obesity, the most prevalent metabolic disease worldwide

In recent years, it has been theorized that chronic, low-grade tissue inflammation related to obesity contributes to insulin resistance, the major cause of Type 2 diabetes. In research done in mouse models, the UCSD scientists proved that, by disabling the macrophage inflammatory pathway, insulin resistance and the resultant Type 2 diabetes can be prevented.

Macrophages, found in white blood cells in the bone marrow, are key players in the immune response. When these immune cells get into tissues, such as adipose (fat) or liver tissue, they release cytokines, which are chemical messenger molecules used by immune and nerve cells to communicate. These cytokines cause the neighboring liver, muscle or fat cells to become insulin resistant, which in turn can lead to Type 2 diabetes.

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