Possible cause of chronic inflammation identified
New York, Nov 3 (IANS) US researchers have identified a possible trigger of chronic inflammation in people with diabetes which could be targeted for preventing complications such as heart attacks, strokes, kidney problems and other related health issues.
“The number of people with diabetes has quadrupled worldwide over the last 20 years,” said Clay F. Semenkovich, Professor at the Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, in the US.
Too much fat in the diet promotes insulin resistance by spurring chronic inflammation.
But blocking the production of fat inside immune cells may prevent inflammation in people with diabetes and even in other conditions, such as arthritis and cancer, in which chronic inflammation plays a role.
This could have a profound impact on health, Semenkovich added.
For the study, Semenkovich’s team made genetically altered mice that could not make the enzyme for fatty acid synthase (FAS) in immune cells called macrophages.
Without the enzyme, it was impossible for the mice to synthesise fatty acids, a normal part of cell metabolism.
“We were surprised to find that the mice were protected from diet-induced diabetes. They did not develop the insulin resistance and diabetes that normally would have been induced by a high-fat diet,” said Xiaochao Wei from the Washington University.
Further, through a series of experiments in the animals and in cell cultures, the researchers found that if macrophages could not synthesise fat from within, the external membranes of those cells could not respond to fat from outside the cells. That prevented the cells from contributing to inflammation.
But, eliminating inflammation altogether is not the answer to preventing diabetic complications because inflammation is also vital for clearing infectious pathogens from the body and helps wounds heal, Semenkovich said.
The study is published online in the journal Nature.