A Molecular Link Between Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes Discovered

Although obesity is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes, the factors linking these disorders are not well defined. Now, scientists at Monash University in Australia, and collaborating institutions, have obtained evidence for a molecular link between the two conditions. In a mouse model, the researchers have shown that a novel protein (pigment epithelium-derived factor or PEDF) released by fat cells triggers a chain of events and interactions that lead to the development of type 2 diabetes. "When PEDF is released into the bloodstream, it causes the muscle and liver to become desensitized to insulin. The pancreas then produces more insulin to counteract these negative effects," said Dr. Matthew Watt, senior author of the study. “This insulin release causes the pancreas to become overworked, eventually slowing or stopping insulin release from the pancreas, leading to type 2 diabetes. Our research was able to show that increasing PEDF not only causes type 2 diabetes-like complications but that blocking PEDF reverses these effects. The body again returned to being insulin-sensitive and therefore did not need excess insulin to remain regulated," Dr. Watt continued. "Until now scientists knew there was a very clear pattern and had strong suspicions that a link existed between the two conditions, but our understanding of the chain of events that are caused by the release of PEDF shows a causal link," Dr. Watt said. The results of this work were published in the July 8 issue of Cell Metabolism. [Press release] [Cell Metabolism abstract]
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