An unexpected biological mechanism explains how mobilized fat in the body can control diabetes


By studying insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells, scientists from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, have shown that these cells suffered less from excess sugar in diabetes patients when they had previously been exposed to fat. The researchers discovered how a cycle of fat storage and mobilization allows cells to adapt to excess sugar. „We studied how human and murine beta cells adapt to an excess of sugar and/or fat”, explains Pierre Maechler, a Professor in the Department of Cell Physiology and Metabolism and in the Diabetes Center of the UNIGE Faculty of Medicine, who led this work. the research team realised that fat droplets were not static reserves, but were the site of a dynamic cycle of storage and mobilization.


Scientists are now trying to determine the mechanism by which this released fat stimulates insulin secretion. An important conclusion of the study is about the benefit of maintaining regular physical activity, which is involved in the fat release, to avoid developing diabetes. So, in other words, an active life style including physical activities is a condition to avoid or limit diabetes and this is the first time when this fact was scientifically motivated.