Research Highlight

Heat treatment for diabetes

doi:10.1038/nindia.2014.69 Published online 26 May 2014

Mild heat treatment has been shown to suppress diabetic conditions in rats prompting researchers to suggest that it could be used as a treatment protocol for diabetes1.

Kulbhushan Tikoo (front) with co-researcher Pinakin Karpe.


The researchers exposed the experimental animals fed on a high-fat diet to 410C heat treatment for 20 minutes once a week. They found that conditions such as hyperglycemia, hyperinsulinemia and hyperlipediema were suppressed in the rats. 

Mild heat stress also alters the vascular tone and expression of several vasoprotective genes such as eNOS, SIRT1 and AMPK. The heat stress leads to increase in expression of HSP72 which functions as a chaperone and maintains proper folding of various proteins in stressed condition. 

Earlier studies have found that expression of HSP72 was lost in diabetic condition. This suggests that the alteration in HSP72 expression is involved in the pathogenesis of diabetes. 

“We were able to induce the HSP72 expression in thoracic aorta of the rats," says lead researcher Kulbhooshan Tikoo of the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research in Mohali, Punjab. This led to augmentation of the vasoprotective ANG-(1-7)/Mas/ACE2 axis of renin angiotensin system (RAS). Activation of this axis has been shown to buffer the actions of harmful ANG II/AT1/ACE1 axis and improves insulin signalling. 

The researchers say therapies stimulating this axis would be helpful to counteract diabetes and associated complications.


1. Karpe, P. A. & Tikoo, K. Heat shock prevents insulin resistance induced vascular complications by augmenting Angiotensin-(1-7) signalling. Diabetes (2014)  doi: 10.2337/db13-1267