Type 2 Diabetes: What Causes Inflammation?

Glucose is not the main cause of inflammation in people with type 2 diabetes, according to a new study in the journal Cell Metabolism that challenges the conventional wisdom.


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Chronic inflammation is behind many of the complications of type 2 diabetes, including heart, kidney and periodontal disease. The causes of inflammation in obesity and type 2 diabetes have been poorly understood, which has made developing treatments to prevent complications difficult. But recent research from the University of Kentucky indicates that changes in mitochondria (the “powerhouses” of the cell) in cells exposed to certain types of fats drives chronic inflammation, surprising the research team and breaking with the commonly held belief that glucose is the cause.

“Aggressive blood glucose control to lower the risk of diabetic complications has been the goal for most people with type 2 diabetes for decades,” lead researcher Barbara Nikolajczyk, PhD, said. “Our data provide an explanation for why people with tight glucose control can nonetheless have disease progression.”

The teams hopes to further investigate the association between certain blood fats and insulin resistance, one of the key characteristics of type 2 diabetes.

Want to learn more about insulin resistance? Read “Insulin Resistance: What You Need to Know” and “Increasing Insulin Sensitivity.”

Diane Fennell

Diane Fennell

Senior Digital Editor for DiabetesSelfManagement.com, Fennell has 16 years’ experience specializing in diabetes and related health conditions. Based in New York City, she has a degree from Columbia University.

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