A promising new drug that treats obesity and metabolic disorders may offer new insight into how tissues in the body communicate.
The research, conducted at the University of Michiga, explains how amlexanox improves the metabolism of sugar by creating a new signal between the liver and fat cells.
Previous research from the University of Michigan’s Life Sciences Institute revealed that amlexanox, which is commonly used to treat asthma, also had the potential to improve weight loss and impair the development of type 2 diabetes in obese mice.
The current study explains how amlexanox works: it increases the level of a messenger molecule know as cAMP, which accelerates the rate at which cells burn fat, leading to weight loss. At the same time, amlexanox causes the fat cells to release a hormone called interleukin-6. In the livers of diabetic mice, interleuki-6 slows the production of glucose, thereby reducing the incidence of high blood sugar levels.
These findings indicate a new pathway for future treatments. The study is the latest clue to solving the complex obesity-inflammation-diabetes issue. By working out exactly how these conditions interact, researchers can develop new treatments for metabolic disorders.
Shannon Reilly, first author of the study, said: “We know that amlexanox works to reverse obesity and insulin resistance in part by resolving chronic inflammation and increasing energy expenditure, but that’s not the whole story of the drug’s effects.
“Understanding how the drug also enables crosstalk between fat cells and the liver in obese mice allows us to see more of the amlexanox picture – and also sheds light on communication between different tissues in the body.”
The research was published in Nature Communications.

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