New research has discovered how obese grizzly bears enter a natural state of diabetes during hibernation, which is then reversed when they awake, shedding new light on the relationship between obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Researchers in the USA made the surprising discovery while studying insulin activity in tissue samples taken from 16 captive grizzly bears, which tend to gain weight and become obese in the autumn in order to survive months of fasting during hibernation.
Over the course of their year-long research, the scientists found that when the bears were at their fattest, they managed to remain highly sensitive to insulin. Also unlike humans, levels of blood insulin also remained static despite the bears’ fluctuating body weight.
During hibernation, insulin sensitivity reduced and the bears entered a state similar to type 2 diabetes, but when they woke up in spring and started to feed, their bodies became more sensitive to the blood sugar regulating hormone, allowing them to recover from this natural diabetic state.
Writing in the journal Cell Metabolism, the research team said the mechanism behind this process is a protein called PTEN in fat cells, which the animals are able to turn off or ramp up to make them …read more
Source: News from Diabetes.co.uk