In recent years a new class of drugs, thiazolidinediones (TZDs), have become commonly prescribed for diabetes.
However, a side effect of these drugs is excess weight gain.
New research to be published in the latest issue of Nature Medicine has shed light on this side effect and on its mechanism of action.
The researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Duke University Medical Center have found that TZDs encourage fat cells to take up fatty acids from the bloodstream.
| TZDs encourage fat cells to take up fatty acids from the bloodstream.
| Nature Medicine |
The fatty acids are then converted, within the fat cells, to triglycerides.
Fatty acids in the blood stream are associated with a blunted sensitivity to insulin that accompanies diabetes.
However, as TZDs also remove fatty acids from the blood stream, they may increase the body's sensitivity to insulin.
This research challenges the long-held scientific viewpoint that fat cells do not contain the enzymes to synthesize fat.
Whether this fatty acid vacuum system is the main secret of TZDs diabetes-fighting ability is not yet known.
However, these data may help scientists design ways to minimize side effects while boosting the effectiveness of this class of drugs, the authors conclude.