DEC 13, 2017 06:49 PM PST

Stress-fighting Compound can Reduce Obesity & Diabetes

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

There is a complicated relationship between stress and health in the human body. Now, researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich have found that a protein that is located in muscle tissue can act to promote diabetes. This discovery, which was reported in Nature Communications, could open up new avenues in the treatment of metabolic diseases like diabetes.

A high fat diet can lead to many health problems. / Image credit: Wikimedia Commons/ebru

It has been known for some time that a protein called FKBP51 is linked to anxiety and stress disorders. The protein plays a role in how the stress system is regulated, and when that regulation becomes dysfunctional, mental illness can arise. The scientists were surprised to find another function of this protein - it links the metabolic processes of the body with the regulation of stress. 

"FKBP51 influences a signaling cascade in muscle tissue, which with excessive calorie intake leads to the development of glucose intolerance, i.e., the key indicator of diabetes type 2," explained the leader of the project, Mathias Schmidt. 

When we consume a diet that is unhealthy, or high in fats, it causes stress in the body. When there is an increased level of FKBP51 synthesis in the muscle, the body responds by reducing how much glucose gets absorbed. That can then lead to obesity and diabetes. 

For this work, the scientists developed mice that lacked the FKBP51 protein. Incredibly, these mice did not show weight gain and had increased glucose tolerance when they were fed a high-fat diet. When the action of FKBP51 is halted, diabetes does not develop, even when there is stress on the body or too many calories are being eaten. When there is less FKBP51 in muscle tissue, glucose intolerance is reduced; normal metabolism is this maintained.

Felix Hausch (presently at University of Darmstadt) created antagonist compounds that pharmacologically stop FKBP51 when he was at the Max Planck Institute. Working with scientists from the Technical University Darmstadt, these compounds are now slated to be tested and developed so they will eventually make their way to clinical trials. 

"These findings may provide a completely new treatment approach for diabetes and other metabolic diseases," commented Alon Chen, the Director at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry.

Learn more about the effects of stress on the body, which include an increase in inflammation (which can lead to obesity) from the above video.

Sources: AAAS/Eurekalert! Via Max Planck Press, Nature Communications

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on 28 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 60 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
JUL 13, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
JUL 13, 2018
Detecting Leukemia Before it Starts Growing
Researchers have found ways to identify people who may develop an aggressive type of blood cancer while they are still healthy....
JUL 19, 2018
Cell & Molecular Biology
JUL 19, 2018
Stopping Structural Changes in Collagen may Prevent Lung Fibrosis
Lung fibrosis is a serious condition that thickens tissues in the lungs and makes it hard to breathe....
AUG 13, 2018
Microbiology
AUG 13, 2018
Insight Into the Origins of Junk DNA - From Koalas
The human genome isn't only genes. There's also long, repetitive sequences with an unknown function and origin....
AUG 24, 2018
Cell & Molecular Biology
AUG 24, 2018
Chronic Allergies can Change Cells
Chronic rhinosinusitis is different from allergies; it leads to serious inflammation and swelling in the sinuses that can last for years....
AUG 26, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
AUG 26, 2018
Why the Same Genetic Mutation can Affect People Differently
Scientists have been confounded for years by genetic errors with the sequence, but a different effect on people....
SEP 11, 2018
Cell & Molecular Biology
SEP 11, 2018
An Interactive Atlas of Cell Division
For the first time, researchers have modeled mitosis in interactive 4D....
Loading Comments...