Insulin, a hormone long recognized as a generator of fat, also keeps fat in the liver under control, according to a new study in the July issue of Cell Metabolism. The newly discovered role for insulin may explain how an organ frequently flooded with the fat-building hormone normally stays trim and also suggests new dietary strategies and treatments to avoid fatty liver, a growing healthcare epidemic, said the researchers.
Insulin produced by the pancreas allows cells to take up glucose from the bloodstream and burn it for energy. In the liver, insulin promotes the synthesis and storage of lipids and carbohydrates and blocks their breakdown and release into the bloodstream. A failure to make or respond to insulin in people with diabetes causes blood sugar levels to rise.
The current study uncovered a new mechanism whereby acute insulin pulses limit fat synthesis in the liver. This protective mechanism fails in obese mice and mice with persistently high levels of insulin, the researchers also found.
Heidi Hardman | EurekAlert!
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