New research suggests that inflammation, which is widely viewed as contributor to type 2 diabetes, is actually crucial for maintaining good blood sugar levels.
"This finding is completely contrary to the general dogma in the diabetes field that low-grade inflammation in obesity causes insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes," says lead author of the study Umut Ozcan, from the Division of Endocrinology at Children's Hospital Boston.
"For 20 years, this inflammation has been seen as detrimental, whereas it is actually beneficial."
The study also suggests a new model for understanding type 2 diabetes, in which obesity may interfere with the ability of people's cells to respond to inflammatory signals.
"It may be that inflammatory pathways are not working optimally and there could be a resistance to cytokines which mediates the inflammation," Ozcan said.
"This could be a paradigm shift for the field," he added.
The study was recently published in the journal Nature Medicine.