Study helps clarify link between high-fat diet and type 2 diabetes

A diet high in saturated fat is a key contributor to type 2 diabetes, a major health threat worldwide. Several decades ago scientists noticed that people with type 2 diabetes have overly active immune responses, leaving their bodies rife with inflammatory chemicals.

In addition, people who acquire the disease are typically obese and are resistant to insulin, the hormone that removes sugar from the blood and stores it as energy.

For years no one has known exactly how the three characteristics are related. But a handful of studies suggest that they are inextricably linked.

New research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine adds clarity to the connection. The study published online April 10 in the journal Nature Immunology finds that saturated fatty acids but not the unsaturated type can activate to produce an inflammatory protein, called interleukin-1beta.

"The cellular path that mediates fatty acid metabolism is also the one that causes interleukin-1beta production," says senior study co-author Jenny Y. Ting, PhD, William Kenan Rand Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology.

"Interleukin-1beta then acts on tissues and organs such as the liver, muscle and fat (adipose) to turn off their response to insulin, making them insulin resistant. As a result, activation of this pathway by fatty acid can lead to and symptoms." Ting is also a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the UNC Institute.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Fatty liver may herald impending type 2 diabetes

Feb 24, 2011

A recent study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM) found that individuals with fatty liver were five times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than t ...

Trans-fatty acids and insulin sensitivity

Jul 08, 2008

Trans-fatty acids have been the topic of a lot of negative health news, but in the July Journal of Lipid research, a dietary study in rats suggests that trans-fats do not increase the risk of insulin resistance and diabet ...

Recommended for you

Growing a blood vessel in a week

16 hours ago

The technology for creating new tissues from stem cells has taken a giant leap forward. Three tablespoons of blood are all that is needed to grow a brand new blood vessel in just seven days. This is shown ...

Testing time for stem cells

19 hours ago

DefiniGEN is one of the first commercial opportunities to arise from Cambridge's expertise in stem cell research. Here, we look at some of the fundamental research that enables it to supply liver and pancreatic ...

Team finds key signaling pathway in cause of preeclampsia

Oct 23, 2014

A team of researchers led by a Wayne State University School of Medicine associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology has published findings that provide novel insight into the cause of preeclampsia, the leading cause ...

Rapid test to diagnose severe sepsis

Oct 23, 2014

A new test, developed by University of British Columbia researchers, could help physicians predict within an hour if a patient will develop severe sepsis so they can begin treatment immediately.

User comments