Limiting cholesterol levels may minimize inflammation and reduce type 2 diabetes risk
By stimulating the enzyme CEH to remove more cholesterol from cells, it may be possible to limit inflammation, improve insulin sensitivity and reduce an individual's type 2 diabetes risk, said a group of researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine.
Cholesterol has long been known to increase inflammation levels, and inflammation is well regarded as a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Yet the researchers noted that few treatments for type 2 diabetes specifically target high cholesterol levels.
"Although diabetes and heart disease often co-exist, current management of diabetes does not necessarily include cholesterol and/or inflammation control," said lead researcher Shobha Ghosh, PhD. "These studies provide the first evidence that targeting fat tissue inflammation as well as elimination of cholesterol from the body may be emerging new strategies to prevent diabetes."
For the study, the team analyzed the effect of turning up the expression of a gene that regulates CEH levels in a group of mice. The results, which were published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry
, showed that even when fed a high-fat diet, these mice had lower levels of inflammation and were more sensitive to the effects of insulin.
The results held true despite the fact that mice still gained significant weight from being fed the high-fat diet. Ghosh explained CEH appeared to cause low-density lipoprotein cholesterol molecules to exit cells, where they could then be neutralized by high-density lipoprotein cholesterol cells and taken to the liver for processing.
Ghosh said that these findings suggest that taking steps to control cholesterol levels in individuals with other risk factors for type 2 diabetes may be an effective treatment strategy. Additionally, they reveal that stimulating the genes that regulate CEH levels in the body may be one of the surest ways to control cellular cholesterol levels and limit fat's pro-inflammatory effects.