08 Jul Brown Fat Transplants May One Day Cure Type I Diabetes
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Subhadra Gunawardana DVM, Ph.D
Research Associate Professor
Department of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Nashville, TN 37232
Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: For many years the general consensus has been that insulin replacement is essential for treating type 1 diabetes. Recent studies increasingly show that extra-pancreatic hormones, particularly those arising from adipose tissue, can compensate for insulin, or entirely replace the function of insulin under appropriate circumstances. Our work on mouse models show that type 1 diabetes can be effectively reversed without insulin, through subcutaneous transplantation of embryonic brown adipose tissue (BAT). BAT transplantation leads to replenishment of recipients’ white adipose tissue; dramatic decrease of inflammation; secretion of a number of beneficial adipokines; and fast and long-lasting euglycemia. Insulin-independent glucose homeostasis is established physiologically, through a combination of endogenously generated hormones arising from the transplant and/or newly-replenished white adipose tissue.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Response: If translated to human patients, this approach could provide a cure for type 1 diabetes that does not require regular exogenous administration of insulin or any other compound, and would thus avoid the many inherent difficulties with such therapies.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: The ability to reverse diabetes without insulin is unique to embryonic/fetal brown adipose tissue. Transplantation of adult adipose tissue has failed to achieve the same results so far. Identifying the specific embryonic factors mediating these functions would help mimic the results with adult adipose tissue, which would greatly improve the practicality of this approach.
Subhadra Gunawardana DVM, Ph.D, & Research Associate Professor (2015). Brown Fat Transplants May One Day Cure Type I Diabetes