Scientific Breakthough regarding the Fat and Disease Link

Thu, 04 Mar 2010
Can you be fat and not get disease or diabetes? Scientists have been trying to break the fat-and-disease link saying that inflammation is key.

Therefore, a major study is under way to test whether an anti-inflammatory drug, relative of the aspirin, can combat the Type 2 diabetes brought on by obesity .

This interesting new research highlights how those yellow blobs of fat lurking under the skin are not just storage for extra calories . They are a toxic site where inflammation seems to take birth.

Diabetes and heart disease are normally related to extra pounds, with increasingly more people across the world becoming overweight or obese . What is unclear is what triggers the cascade of damage which ends up in these illnesses.

There are of course overweight as well as obese individuals who manage to stay metabolically fit with no high blood pressure, high blood sugar or high cholesterol .

"If fat cells functioned perfectly, you could be as obese as you want and not have heart disease," says Dr. Carey Lumeng of the University of Michigan. "It's something we don't understand, why some people are more susceptible and others are not so susceptible."

For some of those who are overweight or obese, inflammation means that the immune system usually used to to fight infection runs amok with weight gain, simmering inside fat tissue prior to spreading to harm blood vessels and increase insulin resistance. People with extremely bad inflammation are known to die earlier.

Dr. Steven Shoelson at the Harvard-affiliated Joslin Diabetes Center noticed that 150 year old reports showed that one of the oldest anti-inflammatories known, salsalate, from the aspirin family, can lower blood sugar. Salsalate is presently used for arthritis, and Shoelson uncovered that it inhibits a master switch in inflammation regulation.

Pilot trials discovered that short-term use of salsalate, along with regular diabetes medication, assisted poorly controlled Type 2 diabetics lower their blood sugar considerably. Fasting glucose levels also dropped from around an average of 150 down to 110.

A study is presently recruiting several hundred Type 2 diabetics at 21 medical centres across the USA to take the drug or a placebo for a year, to monitor long-term effects.

So what is it that triggers the inflammation in the first place? Other researchers have been studying the immune cells called macrophages that cluster inside fat tissue.

A novel study, led by Dr. Preeti Kishore of Albert Einstein College of Medicine, took 30 overweight but healthy volunteers and infused free fatty acids, a type of fat molecule, directly into their blood. She wished to mimick what occurs in the obese, when these fatty acids spill out from stored fat and continually flow through the body.

The results were astonishing: after five hours, the participants stopped being effectively responsive to insulin. They experienced a surge in a protein called PAI-1 (pronounced Pie-one) which trigger a chain reaction linked to heart disease-causing blood clots and diabetes.

It is clear that there are going to be several anti-inflammatory therapies available for diabetes soon.
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