A new study conducted on animal models at Yale University, revealed how type 2 diabetes could be rapidly reversed by use of a very low-calorie diet.
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The idea, if confirmed in humans, is expected to provide potential new drug targets for the treatment of this chronic condition.
Recent predictions by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that by 2050, type 2 diabetes will develop in one in every three Americans.
Various reports suggest a reduction in the disease in patients who have undergone bariatric weight-loss surgery—a process that limits the caloric intake in order to achieve a clinically vital weight loss.
The current study, which was published in Cell Metabolism, aimed at understanding the mechanisms by which type 2 diabetes are rapidly reversed by restriction of calories.
In the study, the impact of a very low-calorie diet (VLCD) that included only one-fourth of the normal intake was investigated on a rodent model of type 2 diabetes.
The team developed a new stable isotope approach by which they tracked and measured numerous metabolic processes that are involved in the increased production of glucose by the liver.
PINTA method enabled the researchers to conduct a complete set of analyses of key metabolic fluxes in the liver that are thought to contribute to the two key processes resulting in the increased blood-sugar level in diabetes—insulin resistance and augmented glucose production rates by the liver.
The results suggested three major mechanisms that are responsible for the dramatic impact of VLCD in rapidly decreasing blood glucose concentrations in the diabetic animals—(a) reducing the conversion of amino acids and lactate into glucose, (b) reducing the conversion rate of liver glycogen to glucose, and (b) lowering the fat content, thereby enhancing the response of liver to insulin.
These positive impacts of VLCD were witnessed in just 3 days.
The team further aims at investigating if the results can be replicated in type 2 diabetic patients who undergo bariatric surgery or consume VLCDs.
These results, if confirmed in humans, will provide us with novel drug targets to more effectively treat patients with type 2 diabetes."
Gerald I. Shulman, M.D., senior author, the George R. Cowgill Professor of Medicine and Cellular and Molecular Physiology and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute