Weight Loss Changes What Fat Cells Tell Our Body To Do

In 2015, researchers found that the adipocytes, or fat cells in obese individuals relay messages that alter how their body manages insulin, setting the stage for type 2 diabetes onset.

The adipocytes’ messages are sent as exosomes, tiny blobs carrying information that determines which proteins are manufactured by genes. Researcher Robert J. Freishtat, M.D., M.P.H., Linkoping University, likens exosomes to “biological tweets” since they are short communications that travel long distances in the body.

After completing the 2015 study, Freishtat and colleagues were curious whether the harmful messages conveyed by adipocytes would improve after weight loss, and decided to investigate.

Six African American adults scheduled for gastric bypass surgery were recruited by the scientists. These individuals were chosen as they would likely lose a lot of weight rapidly after their procedures. Blood samples and various other measurements were collected from the participants two weeks before, and repeatedly for one year following their operations.

The researchers discovered that numerous specific messages, or microRNAs carried by the exosomes, changed after the surgeries. Many of these altered messages were involved with insulin signaling, and blood sugar regulation. The post-surgery adipocytes, noted Dr. Freishtat, were warding off type 2 diabetes by actively encouraging increased insulin sensitivity in other cells.

The microRNA changes that the investigators found were reflected in the study participants' improved markers of metabolic health, and enhanced insulin sensitivity. “These volunteers were essentially cured of their diabetes after surgery. The changes we saw in their surgery-responsive microRNAs correlated with the changes we saw in their metabolic health,” said Freishtat.

Dr. Freishtat and colleagues will continue their study with slower methods of weight loss, such as dietary changes with increased exercise. They are expecting to find similar positive exosome alterations after non-surgical weight reductions.

Source: Science Daily

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