Obesity may lead to insulin resistance associated with type 2 diabetes

Research conducted at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden has revealed that insulin may reduce the inflammation that is caused by obesity, thereby lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes.

People who gain weight experience a growth of fat tissue, which produces inflammatory molecules that cause chronic inflammation. This may have a significant impact upon insulin resistance, an early indicator of type 2 diabetes.

One of these molecules released from fat is called interleukin-6 (IL-6), which impairs insulin signaling. A protein called PKCdelta helps regulate this inflammatory compound, and when scientists block its activity, they have observed a significant decrease in inflammation.

"It's still not entirely clear why obesity causes insulin resistance," said Emelie Wallerstedt, a researcher from the Institute of Medicine. "Inflammation could be part of the reason why obesity leads to type 2 diabetes."

The team of investigators emphasized that a better understanding of these signaling mechanisms may help develop anti-inflammatory medicines in the future. These treatments could reduce the risk of insulin resistance and prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.

These findings were published in the May 2010 issue of Diabetologia.