Scientists in the US say they have uncovered the reason why some patients with type 2 diabetes are cured of their condition following gastric bypass surgery.
Gastric bypass is an irreversible form of bariatric (weight loss) surgery that also has great benefits for obese people with type 2 diabetes, independent of the actual weight loss.
To find out what the mechanisms behind these health benefits may be, experts at Boston Children’s Hospital performed the gastric bypass procedure on rats.
After reconnecting the lower portion of the small intestine to the top of the stomach – thus bypassing the main part of the stomach and the top of the small intestine – the animals were then scanned and the route of their meals was traced through the body.
Surprisingly, the researchers found that by bypassing the stomach sugar was being used by the intestines, making them work harder and increasing their energy needs. The intestines also had to undergo some internal rebuilding as part of the transitio, which also used energy.
They concluded that the rise in energy needs helped keep blood sugar levels under control. In fact, the use of more energy accounted for over 60% of the changes in blood sugar post-surgery, with the remaining effect believed to be down to weight loss and hormonal changes.
The added that the next step is find less invasive ways to activate the intestines to produce the same effect, which could lead to new therapies for type 2 diabetes.
Dr Matthew Hobbs, the head of research at Diabetes UK, said: “This work gives more details about what happens when gastric bypass surgery is used to treat type-2 diabetes.
“The researchers hope that the findings may give us new treatments in the future that would mimic those effects without the surgical procedure.”

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