Study uncovers the reason for the link between obesity and type 2 diabetes

It has long been known that obese individuals are significantly more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. However, until recently the exact reason for this association was not known precisely.

A team of researchers from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, Australia recently discovered that macrophages, a type of immune cell, move to fat tissue in obese individuals. The cells begin releasing cytokines, which are chemical messenger cells used by immune cells to communicate. However, these cytokines also cause inflammation, which results in insulin resistance.

"We have shown that insulin resistance in human obesity is closely related to the presence of inflammatory cells in fat tissue, in particular a population of macrophage cells," said Len Harrison, who led the investigation. "The complications of obesity such as insulin resistance and diabetes, are the result of inflammation that occurs in the fat tissue."

He added that the findings also indicated that when obese individuals lose weight, this immune response subsides, suggesting that recovery from type 2 diabetes is possible.

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