A link between lowered brain glucose levels and type 2 diabetes has been identified which could provide a better understanding of the condition.
US researchers say the findings could also shed further light on other conditions such as eating disorders, obesity and Alzheimer’s disease.
It was already known that reduced metabolism in the brain is linked to type 2 diabetes and obesity but no one knew why, which is what prompted the Yale research team into exploring the subject further.
They looked at brain glucose levels in three different groups of adults which included healthy people, and those who were either obese or had poorly managed type 2 diabetes.
The trial involved getting all participants to fast overnight. They were then given glucose intravenously for a couple of hours. During the procedure brain scans were carried out to monitor the levels of glucose in the brain. They also noted down the levels of hunger or satisfaction all participants had.
First author and assistant professor of medicine Dr Janic Hwang said: “We found decreased or blunted entry of glucose into the brain.
“Glucose is the most primitive signal to the brain that you’ve eaten. Could it be that obese individuals are not getting sugar into the brain, and not sensing it; thus the feedback loop to stop eating could also be blunted?”
Dr Hwang noted that it could be the blunting process which is preventing the brain to function as it should when it comes to sensing glucose.
“These findings have potential implications for not only regulation of feeding behavior and body weight, but also for understanding the increased risk of neurocognitive deficits in patients with obesity and poorly controlled [type 2 diabetes mellitus],” said the researchers.
They added that understanding how obesity and type 2 diabetes affects the brain’s ability to detect circulating glucose is pivotal to the metabolic chances which contribute to obesity and type 2 diabetes.
The findings have been published in the JCI Insight journal.

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