Critical link between obesity and diabetes has been identified

November 28, 2017, UT Southwestern Medical Center
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

UT Southwestern researchers have identified a major mechanism by which obesity causes type 2 diabetes, which is a common complication of being overweight that afflicts more than 30 million Americans and over 400 million people worldwide. 

Researchers found that in obesity, insulin released into the blood by the pancreas is unable to pass through the cells that form the inner lining of . As a result, insulin is not delivered to the muscles, where it usually stimulates most of the body's glucose to be metabolized.  Blood glucose levels rise, leading to and its related cardiovascular, kidney and vision problems, said Dr. Philip Shaul, Director of the Center for Pulmonary and Vascular Biology in the Department of Pediatrics at UT Southwestern.

"It was totally unpredicted that a major problem in obesity is the delivery of circulating insulin to your muscle.  It was even more surprising that this problem involves immunoglobulins, which are the proteins that make up circulating antibodies," said Dr. Chieko Mineo, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, who is a co-senior author on the report with Dr. Shaul.

The researchers found that obese mice have an unexpected chemical change in their immunoglobulins. "The abnormal immunoglobulins then act on cells lining blood vessels to inhibit an enzyme needed to transfer from the bloodstream into the muscle," said Dr. Shaul, who holds the Associates First Capital Corporation Distinguished Chair in Pediatrics.  "Type 2 diabetes patients have the same chemical change, and if we give a mouse immunoglobulins from a type 2 diabetic individual, the mouse becomes diabetic."

The findings reported in The Journal of Clinical Investigation may lead to new tools for diabetes risk screening and new avenues for or treatment. The researchers identified an agent that they could administer to mice that prevents the chemical change in immunoglobulins that occurs with obesity and preserves healthy glucose status. The researchers plan to test this strategy in humans in the near future.

Critical link between obesity and diabetes has been identified
Dr. Philip Shaul and Dr. Chieko Mineo lead a team that discovered a major mechanism by which obesity causes type 2 diabetes. Credit: UT Southwestern

Explore further: Researchers design synthetic beta cells to secrete insulin in response to high blood sugar

More information: Keiji Tanigaki et al, Hyposialylated IgG activates endothelial IgG receptor FcγRIIB to promote obesity-induced insulin resistance, Journal of Clinical Investigation (2017). DOI: 10.1172/JCI89333

Related Stories

Researchers design synthetic beta cells to secrete insulin in response to high blood sugar

October 30, 2017
Treating type 1 diabetes and some cases of type 2 diabetes has long required painful and frequent insulin injections or a mechanical insulin pump for insulin infusion. But researchers from the University of North Carolina ...

Study identifies blood vessel as a therapeutic target for diabetes

September 14, 2017
Blood vessels have an often overlooked role of regulating the transfer of nutrients from the blood to organs in the body. In a new Yale-led study, researchers have identified a role of a secreted protein, apelin, in regulating ...

Post-biotics may help shield obese from diabetes

April 20, 2017
You've heard of pre-biotics and pro-biotics, but now you'll be hearing a lot more about post-biotics. Researchers at McMaster University have begun to identify how post-biotics, or the by-products of bacteria, lower blood ...

High insulin levels tied to obesity pathway, research shows

August 25, 2014
UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers have identified a crucial link between high levels of insulin and pathways that lead to obesity, a finding that may have important implications when treating diabetes.

Recommended for you

Gut protein mutations shield against spikes in glucose

November 20, 2018
Why is it that, despite consuming the same number of calories, sodium and sugar, some people face little risk of diabetes or obesity while others are at higher risk? A new study by investigators at Brigham and Women's Hospital ...

Can't exercise? A hot bath may help improve inflammation, metabolism, study suggests

November 14, 2018
Hot water treatment may help improve inflammation and blood sugar (glucose) levels in people who are unable to exercise, according to a new study. The findings are published ahead of print in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

Diabetic foot ulcers heal quickly with nitric oxide technology

November 12, 2018
Diabetic foot ulcers can take up to 150 days to heal. A biomedical engineering team wants to reduce it to 21 days.

Diabetes drug might also ease heart failure risks

November 12, 2018
(HealthDay)—The diabetes drug Farxiga might do double-duty for patients, helping to ward off another killer, heart failure, new research shows.

Marijuana use tied to serious diabetes complication

November 8, 2018
(HealthDay)—People with type 1 diabetes who use marijuana may double their risk of developing a life-threatening complication, a new study suggests.

Researchers report connection between intestinal bacteria and development of diabetes

November 7, 2018
Researchers at Örebro University have, together with a well-known research team in Denmark, developed a method for studying how metabolism in gut bacteria influences health. Their method will now be published in its entirety ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.