Natural substance may improve insulin sensitivity and limit fatty liver deposits in individuals with type 2 diabetes
Researchers from Baylor University began studying the substance because they thought it would stimulate the protein liver receptor homolog-1 (LRH-1). This protein is important because it regulates bile production, which is key to the body's ability to break down food.
While the results of the testing, which were published in the journal Nature, showed that DLPC led to modest gains in bile production, the compound's ability to eliminate fatty deposits in the liver and improve insulin sensitivity were much more encouraging.
In testing on laboratory mice bred to have impaired glucose control and insulin resistance, the team found that subjects treated with DLPC became much more sensitive to the effects of the hormone and had significantly lower blood sugar levels. Additionally, protein markers of fatty liver deposits were reduced.
However, these benefits were not evident in mice that were engineered to lack LRH-1, suggesting that the effects may be connected to bile production.
The researchers said that they were not completely sure how DLPC gets rid of fat in the liver but speculated that increased bile production may silence certain proteins that are involved in the production of fats.
The findings could have important implications for the treatment of individuals who may be likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Currently, the researchers are continuing their trial in humans who are overweight and at risk for the metabolic condition. The team is testing whether taking supplements containing DLPC for two months can improve insulin sensitivity.
If their trial is successful, it could mark a major advancement in the prevention of type 2 diabetes. DLPC is widely available in the form of lecithin supplements.