Research highlight

Inflammation drives diabetes

Nature Immunology

April 11, 2011

Obesity can trigger an inflammatory response from immune cells, which can then lead to metabolic diseases, such as insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, reports an study published online this week in Nature Immunology. The findings show how the immune system can directly contribute to a common metabolic disease and highlights that targeting inflammation may be a useful therapeutic intervention.

A molecular complex inside cells, called the inflammasome, plays an important role in immunity by triggering inflammation in response to a wide variety of harmful agents ranging from bacteria to asbestos. Jenny Ting and colleagues now find that palmitate, a fatty acid common in a high fat diet, triggers activation of the inflammasome. Palmitate-triggered inflammation is also responsible for interfering with the insulin sensitivity of liver cells ― a major feature of type 2 diabetes.

doi: 10.1038/ni.2022

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