This study adds to the growing evidence that it is possible to reverse the disease in some cases.
The idea that type 2 diabetes may be reversible has been gaining momentum in the research community but, until now, the mechanisms that drive this remission were not known. Now, a study conducted by researchers at Yale University in New Haven (USA) has unravelled the mechanism by which calorie restriction leads to the reversal of type 2 diabetes in experiments on mice.
According to scientists, only 3 days with a very low calorie
very low in calories (at the human level would be less than 800 calories per day). were sufficient to reverse markers of type 2 diabetes in diabetic rodents. They restricted calories in the diets of rats that exhibited the equivalent of all the features of type 2 diabetes in humans, which are non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, hyperglycemia, obesity, and hyperinsulinemia (when the amount of insulin in the blood is higher than what is considered normal).
The restricted diets contained one-fourth of the normal caloric intake, and the rats were subjected to this type of diet for 3 days. At that time, the team used a new technique, which they developed, that allowed them to examine a series of metabolic changes that cause the liver to overproduce glucose.
After 3 days, the blood glucose levels of the animals decreased rapidly. Furthermore, they were able to reveal additional details as to why exactly this was happening:
“Using this approach to comprehensively interrogate carbohydrate metabolism and the fats, we demonstrate that it is a combination of three mechanisms is responsible for the rapid reversal of hyperglycemia after a very low-calorie diet,” says Gerald I. Shulman, co-author of the paper, published in the journal Cell Metabolism.
Three investment mechanisms
Thus, the researchers found three mechanisms by which this type of diet drastically reduced blood sugar concentrations in rodents:
The diet slowed the rate at which lactate and amino acids were converted to glucose.
-Decreased the rate at which liver glycogen was converted to glucose.
It decreased the fat content of the liver, which, in turn, made the liver more sensitive to insulin.
These three mechanisms together promoted glucose lowering in a weight-independent manner, the authors note, as the rodents’ body weight was unaffected throughout the study .
However, before declaring that type 2 diabetes has a cure, we need to find out if this same method would also work in humans, so the next step will be to conduct a human trial.
“Our findings, if translated to humans, would suggest that [estos tres mecanismos] could be potential therapeutic targets for lowering plasma glucose in those with type 2 diabetes,” explains Rachel J. Perry, co-author of the study.
As we can see, the research is really promising, but we are still in the data collection stage. If we can get confirmation of success in humans, it will represent a ray of hope for those living with the disease because, until recently, it was thought that type 2 diabetes could only get worse over time or, at best, be treated with appropriate medication.
Mechanisms by which a Very-Low-Calorie Diet Reverses Hyperglycemia in a Rat Model of Type 2 Diabetes. Rachel J. Perry et al. Cell Metabolism (2017) DOI: doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2017.10.004