Researchers from the Joslin Diabetes Center in Bosto, USA have uncovered the way in which a key hormone in glucose metabolism works.
The hormone is known as FGF21 (fibroblast growth factor 21) and has been known to assist glucose metabolism as well as weight loss but, prior to this study, researchers had not known why the hormone was able to produce these beneficial effects.
The study investigated the role of the hormone and found that it stimulated white fat to burn energy rather than simply storing it, a process referred to as ‘browning’ because burning energy to produce heat in the body is a role more commonly associated with brown fat in the body.
The researchers used mice engineered to have type 2 diabetes to test the effects of the hormone. The research was particularly promising as hyperglycemia was eliminated in mice treated with the FGF21 hormone, despite the mice being engineered to have impaired sensitivity to insulin.
In addition to the hormone treating high blood glucose levels, the hormone also showed an additional benefit in reducing cholesterol levels in the mice.
Whilst the hormone shows promise for developing new treatments for type 2 diabetes, further research will be needed to deduce whether any harmful side effects are associated with FGF21 treatment.

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