RESEARCHERS have investigated the link between fatty liver disease and key markers of type 2 diabetes in mice.
The results suggest that reducing production of the neurotransmitter GABA in the liver could normalize blood glucose levels, decrease appetite, and lead to weight loss.
The researchers say that the treatment pathway may exclusively work among people with obesity.
Type 2 diabetes is characterized by high blood sugar levels caused by insulin resistance.
Insulin is a hormone that helps glucose enter cells, where it can be used for energy or stored for future use.
Insulin resistance happens when cells in the body do not respond well to insulin and thus do not remove glucose from the blood.
In type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance also increases the body’s production of insulin, which can lead to increased appetite, high blood pressure, and weight gainTrusted Source.
Previous research has shown that type 2 diabetes is strongly linked to overweightTrusted Source and fatty liver disease, which involves storing excess fat in the liver
. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 89%Trusted Source of people with diabetes have overweight.
While scientists have long suspected that excess fat in the liver might cause type 2 diabetes, exactly how this could be has remained a mystery.
Recently, researchers from the University of Arizona, Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Pennsylvania, and Northwestern University conducted two studies to piece apart the underlying mechanisms linking fatty liver disease with glucose homeostasis, which is the balance between insulin and glucose in the blood.
They found that insulin sensitivity can be restored within days of reducing excess production of the neurotransmitter GABA in the liver and that long-term treatment may lead to decreased appetite and weight loss.
Neurotransmitters are sent between nerves to allow the brain and different parts of the body to communicate.