A signaling pathway between the gut, brain and liver, appears to have the effect of lowering blood sugar levels when activated, new research has shown. Armed with this knowledge, diabetes medications and treatment methods could be developed which aim to activate this pathway.
The study in question observed that in rats, “fats can activate a subset of nerves in the intestine, which then send a signal to the brain and subsequently to the liver to lower glucose or sugar production.” This process can take as little as fifteen minutes. The rat model is often transferable to a human model, making this study an essential first step in finding human treatments that can manipulate the pathway.
The study warns that a high-fat diet for three days or more interferes with this pathway, “disabling it so that it does not signal the other organs to lower blood glucose levels.” This finding “may suggest that those who eat a high fat diet lose this beneficial signaling pathway.”
For diabetics, increased risk of cardiovascular events(heart attacks and strokes), blood and neural problems that can lead to amputations, blindness, and kidney disease, can all develop because of high glucose levels. Keeping blood sugar levels under this dangerous level is absolutely essential for diabetics.
Controlling blood sugar levels is of primary importance for a diabetic, and it is currently done through diet and exercise, as well as glucose tablets and insulin injections in the more serious cases. Finding an alternative way for controlling blood sugar levels would be a huge advancement for diabetes treatment, and it is possible that this signaling pathway may be that important alternative.
Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Radkewycz, Alex. Nature press release. April 2008.