Fat’s Impact on Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome

by Mark Benson on May 23, 2012

Metabolic syndrome link from fat proteins

A study conducted at the University of Michigan Health System has found new clues about the changes precipitated when one includes high fat food in their diet. This new information on how the body responds to this kind of diet can provide new ways to treat the illnesses brought by it, such as diabetes, obesity and other metabolic syndromes.

These researchers found that a key protein named Bcl10 is required for the free fatty acids to affect insulin receptivity of the body. These proteins are found in high fat food and stored body fat and are one of the reasons for abnormally high glucose levels in the body.

In laboratory studies, mice without Bcl10 proteins were protected from developing insulin resistance when feeding on a diet high in fat. As insulin helps manage blood sugar levels, the action of this protein results in insulin resistance that can lead to diabetes in the long run. Furthermore, this kind of resistance can be part of a greater metabolic syndrome, such as those affecting millions of Americans. These include obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

According to Senior Study author Peter C. Lucas, M.D., “The study also underscores how very short-term changes in diet such as high-fat eating fro only a few days, perhaps even less, can induce a state of insulin resistance.” The lead is currently an associate professor of pathology at the University of Michigan Medical School.

Researchers began the study by investigating how free fatty acids induce inflammation to impair insulin action in the liver. The liver is thought to be a major target for the effects of free fatty acids. The liver undergoes harmful effects, such as the effect of free fatty acids that undergo changes such as the production of diacyglycerols before resulting in an overall inflammatory response. These B signaling chemicals have been associated with other diseases, such as cancer, metabolic and vascular ones.

The research to be published in the May 31 issue of Cell Reports concluded that Bcl10 is a trigger for fatty acids to inflame the tissue and induce insulin resistance. The studies proved that by lowering Bcl10 levels, the laboratory mice showed improvement in its ability to regulate blood sugar levels.

Lucas adds, “We were surprised to learn that Bcl10, a protein previously known for its critical role in immune cell response to infection, also plays a critical role in the liver’s response to fatty acid. This is an example of nature co-opting a mechanism fundamental to the immune system and using it in a metabolic organ, in this case, the liver.”

This was seconded by co-senior author Linda M. McAllister-Lucas, M.D., PhD. She is currently Associate Professor of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology and she said, “These findings reveal a new and important role for Bcl10 and could lead to novel ideas for treating patients with metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes.”


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

calliloo June 6, 2012 at 12:46 pm

So is fat good or bad?

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