In a finding that could lead to the design of a drug to prevent the disease, Monash University researchers have found how obesity leads to type 2 diabetes.
Though obesity is associated as a leading cause of diabetes, no one has understood the exact mechanism of how obesity inhibits the body's ability to use insulin leading to type 2 diabetes until now.
Now, the research team, led by Associate Professor Matthew Watt, discovered that fat cells release a novel protein called PEDF (pigment epithelium-derived factor), which triggers a chain of events and interactions that lead to development of Type 2 diabetes.
"When PEDF is released into the bloodstream, it causes the muscle and liver to become desensitised to insulin. The pancreas then produces more insulin to counteract these negative effects, " Watt said.
"This insulin release causes the pancreas to become overworked, eventually slowing or stopping insulin release from the pancreas, leading to Type 2 diabetes.
"It appears that the more fat tissue a person has the less sensitive they become to insulin. Therefore a greater amount of insulin is required to maintain the body's regulation of blood-glucose.
"Our research was able to show that increasing PEDF not only causes Type 2 diabetes like complications but that blocking PEDF reverses these effects. The body again returned to being insulin-sensitive and therefore did not need excess insulin to remain regulated," Watt added.
The findings were published today in respected journal Cell Metabolism.