Researchers are getting closer to understanding the association between obesity and insulin resistance, a condition in which normal amounts of insulin are inadequate to produce a normal insulin response from fat, muscle and liver cells. Insulin resistance can precede the development of type 2 diabetes.
"Obese adipose, or fat, tissue is characterized by the presence of macrophages, specialized cells that usually fight infection. Adipose tissue macrophages (ATMs) accumulate in fat tissue as body weight increases. Growing evidence shows that ATMs are a significant contributor to inflammation in obesity – inflammation that leads to insulin resistance, resulting in type 2 diabetes." (Statement from recent press release highlighting results of a new study from the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine.
"A decrease in ATMs is associated with a decrease in adipose tissue inflammation and a reduction in insulin resistance, while an increase in ATMs is associated with a further deterioration of insulin sensitivity," explains Jerrold Olefsky, M.D., Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Associate Dean for Scientific Affairs at UC San Diego.
Healthy weight loss has already been proven to lower body fat and therefore improve insulin resistance, but understanding the reason why why obesity leads to insulin resistance is key to developing new type 2 diabetes treatments.