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Liver fat over-spills linked to type 2 diabetes development

By Editor
3rd January 2020
Northern England, Type 2 diabetes Type 2 diabetes remission Type 2 prevention

Fat over-spills from the liver into the pancreas triggers the development of type 2 diabetes, according to researchers.

The findings were collected from people who had previously been involved in the Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial (DiRECT), which was led by Professors Roy Taylor and Mike Lean.

All the participants had reversed their type 2 diabetes by losing weight during the DiRECT trial and the majority of them remained diabetes-free for the rest of the two-year study period.

However, a small group put weight on and re-developed type 2 diabetes, which the research team monitored, testing Professor Taylor’s Twin Cycle Hypothesis, which suggests the chronic condition is caused by excess fat within both the liver and pancreas.

Professor Taylor, from the Newcastle University Institute of Translational and Clinical Research, said: “We saw that when a person accumulates too much fat, which should be stored under the skin, then it has to go elsewhere in the body. The amount that can be stored under the skin varies from person to person, indicating a ‘personal fat threshold’ above which fat can cause mischief.

“When fat cannot be safely stored under the skin, it is then stored inside the liver, and over-spills to the rest of the body including the pancreas. This ‘clogs up’ the pancreas, switching off the genes which direct how insulin should effectively be produced, and this causes type 2 diabetes.”

The findings have been recently published in the academic journal Cell Metabolism.

Professor Taylor added: “This means we can now see type 2 diabetes as a simple condition where the individual has accumulated more fat than they can cope with.

“Importantly this means that through diet and persistence, patients are able to lose the fat and potentially reverse their diabetes. The sooner this is done after diagnosis, the more likely it is that remission can be achieved.

“For the first time we are able to report the underlying physiologic changes during a full cycle of disease reversal and re-emergence.”

To read the study, click here.

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