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Researchers link fat cells to diabetes

“Sick” fat cells linked to illness by Temple researchers.

In a new study conducted by Temple’s researchers, “sick” fat cells have been found to link obese people to type 2 diabetes.

The study included 12 participants, six containing lean fat samples and six containing obese fat samples. A biopsy was conducted on each patients’ upper thigh area. Signs of abnormalities were seen within the obese fat cells.

“The results were clearly different in the fat samples of the obese than the fat in the lean participants,” said Dr. Guenther Boden, the lead researcher of the study. “The changes in the adipose tissue in obese people probably meant that the fat tissue in these people could not function normally.”
The adipose tissue’s main job is to store energy as fat, thus insulating the body. If the adipose tissue fails to do this, the extra calories consumed must be stored somewhere else.

The amount of adipose tissues must then be increased in order for the excess fat to be stored properly.

“Obese people have bigger fat cells,” Boden said. “An increase in adipose tissue can store this excess fat.”

The dysfunctional tissue in the obese patients can also be described as “sick” fat. When the fat tissue in a person’s body becomes “sick,” it causes the endoplasmic reticulum to malfunction.

“The endoplasmic reticulum is a quantity control organ,” Boden said. “Its major function is to make sure that proteins that are unfolded don’t get in other areas of the body or bloodstream.”

The endoplasmic reticulum is also responsible for synthesizing proteins, or translating them. When the endoplasmic reticulum becomes stressed, several proteins are produced, leading to the most probable cause of insulin resistance.

Boden determines insulin resistance as the main link between type 2 diabetes and people who suffer from obesity. Those who suffer from insulin resistance may also be more prone to a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.

Kylee Messner can be reached at kylee.messner@temple.edu.

One comment on “Researchers link fat cells to diabetes

  1. Diabetes can be prevented by just having a physically active lifestyle. Just exercise everyday and avoid eating too much. Avoid sweets and high carb foods too.

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