Reversal of Type 2 Diabetes Seen With Major Liver Fat Loss

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doctor holding liver model
  • A study of type 2 diabetics found that those who lost weight successfully reversed the condition during the 2-year study. 

  • Excess body fat spills over into the liver and pancreas; this switches off genes that direct how insulin should be produced and can lead to type 2 diabetes.

This article was published on Newcastle University News:

For the first time, scientists have been able to observe people developing type 2 diabetes - and confirmed that fat over-spills from the liver into the pancreas, triggering the chronic condition. The study involved a group of people who previously had type 2 diabetes but had lost weight and successfully reversed the condition as part of the DiRECT trial. The majority remained non-diabetic for the rest of the two year study, however, a small group went on to re-gain the weight and re-developed type 2 diabetes while monitored by the study organizers.

"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."

"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."

The study was published in Cell Metabolism in December 2019.

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