Washington D.C : A team of researchers has found that a special type of fat that probably evolved to help keep our ancestors warm on cold hunting mornings may also be important in protecting against diabetes.
Researchers at Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research measured brown fat activity and blood glucose continuously in real time in study participants, and found that individuals with more brown fat had smaller fluctuations in blood sugar. Their findings open new avenues for diabetes therapies that target brown fat.
The incidence of type 2 diabetes, which is characterised by high blood sugar, is reaching epidemic proportions worldwide. There is a need for new insights into how blood sugar levels can be controlled, beyond mechanisms actioned by currently available therapies.
Now, researchers at Garvan have shown that brown fat may help to minimise fluctuations in blood sugar (blood glucose) concentration in adults.
Researcher Paul Lee said that it looks like the more brown fat one has, the more influence it has on blood glucose, adding that the findings indicate that brown fat might act as a glucose buffer, lessening the variation in blood glucose and potentially diminishing metabolic stresses that could increase the risk of diabetes.
The research team studied a group of 15 healthy adults over 12 hours. They found that blood glucose levels and heat production by brown fat were closely related, tracking together over time.
The work is published in the prestigious journal Cell Metabolism.