Scarring key to link between obesity and diabetes

Aug 13, 2009

The team, in collaboration with University Hospital Aintree, the University of Warwick and researchers in Sweden, found that people classified as obese and those with pre-diabetes have raised levels of a protein called SPARC, that can cause tissue scarring. The research revealed that an increase in insulin, a hormone that controls blood sugar levels, and leptin, a hormone that regulates appetite, can trigger an increase in SPARC, which can prevent the proper storage of fat in fat tissue cells.

It is thought that leptin, in an attempt to balance energy levels in the body, could trigger SPARC to limit the storage of fat. SPARC can do this by increasing the formation of scars in , which can prevent fat being stored safely in the body. Researchers found that this process could predispose obese patients to type 2 diabetes.

Professor John Wilding, from the University's School of Clinical Science, explains: "We tested fat tissue of patients at University Hospital Aintree and found that an increase in leptin also increases SPARC levels, which reduces the safe storage of fat through the development of abnormal tissue scarring. Scarring of fat tissue is known to increase as we gain weight and we found that this is exacerbated by leptin, as well as an increase in , produced by the ."

Dr Katarina Kos, lead author of the research, added: "Leptin is produced in to regulate appetite, but the body becomes resistant to the effects of reduction in obese patients. Leptin continues to increase in response to overall fat mass and promotes scarring through increased SPARC levels. Once scarring occurs, the excess nutritional energy from fat cannot be taken up by fat cells and so remains in the blood and begins to gather around organs. As a result, fat cells of people classified as obese, may not fulfil their natural purpose to store fat."

Diabetes is caused by the cells' inability to respond to insulin, which would normally enable uptake of sugar from the blood. To compensate, the pancreas creates more insulin to clear blood sugar from the circulation. The pancreas becomes exhausted and is unable to produce sufficient insulin to keep up with the demands of the body. This results in the development of , which can cause problems such as lack of energy to the cells and, over time, damage to the eyes, kidneys and heart.

The research team, working with the Swedish fast food study group at Linkoping University, also found that weight gain, induced by more than doubling calorie intake through eating 'junk food', causes SPARC levels to increase by 33%. In a further study with the University of Gothenburg, scientists found that a reduced calorie diet can decrease SPARC levels and the stimulus for tissue scarring.

Researchers are now investigating why some people are more prone to fat tissue scarring than others and how further understanding of SPARC could contribute to future treatments for diabetes.

More information: The research is published in the journal, Diabetes.

Source: University of Liverpool (news : web)

Explore further: Monitoring the rise and fall of the microbiome

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Researchers Find Food-free Route to Obesity

Oct 19, 2006

Can people get fat -- and risk debilitating diabetes -- without overeating? The answer may be yes, according to Timothy Kieffer, a University of British Columbia researcher, who has found that imbalance in the action of a ...

Not all fat is created equal

Aug 27, 2008

A Temple University study finds fat in obese patients is "sick" when compared to fat in lean patients.

Impaired fat-burning gene worsens diabetes

Feb 07, 2008

Researchers at the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet have in collaboration with researchers from Finland, China, Japan and the US discovered new cellular mechanisms that lead to in insulin resistance in people ...

Researchers Discover Fat Gene

Jan 20, 2005

UCLA/VA scientists have identified a new gene that controls how the body produces and uses fat. Called lipin, the gene may provide a new target for therapies to control obesity, diabetes and other weight-related disorders. ...

Recommended for you

Monitoring the rise and fall of the microbiome

5 hours ago

Trillions of bacteria live in each person's digestive tract. Scientists believe that some of these bacteria help digest food and stave off harmful infections, but their role in human health is not well understood.

Antioxidant biomaterial promotes healing

13 hours ago

When a foreign material like a medical device or surgical implant is put inside the human body, the body always responds. According to Northwestern University's Guillermo Ameer, most of the time, that response can be negative ...

Immune response may cause harm in brain injuries, disorders

15 hours ago

Could the body's own immune system play a role in memory impairment and cognitive dysfunction associated with conditions like chronic epilepsy, Alzheimer's dementia and concussions? Cleveland Clinic researchers believe so, ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

NeilFarbstein
1 / 5 (1) Aug 14, 2009
Are there other hormones that can cause uptake of glucose into receptor deficient cells? Insulin substitutes?