WASHINGTON — A US study released Thursday revealed how a very low-calorie diet can rapidly reverse type 2 diabetes in rats.
If confirmed in people, the insight provides potential new drug targets for treating this common chronic disease, said the researchers, according to the study published in the journal Cell Metabolism.
In the study, a team led by the Yale University researchers showed three days of a very-low-calorie diet (VLCD), consisting of one-quarter the normal intake, lowered blood glucose and insulin concentrations in a rat model of type 2 diabetes without altering body weight.
A track of the liver metabolic processes showed that it is due to a reduction in the conversion of lactate and amino acids into glucose and a reduction in the rate of liver glycogen conversion to glucose.
Decreasing fat content, which in turn improves the liver’s response to insulin, also contributed to the VLCD’s positive effects.
“We showed that it is a combination of three mechanisms that is responsible for the rapid reversal of hyperglycemia following a very low-calorie diet,” senior author Gerald Shulman, professor of the Yale University and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
The next step is to confirm whether the findings can be replicated in type 2 diabetic patients undergoing either bariatric surgery or consuming very low-calorie diets, the researchers said.
Previous reports indicated that type 2 diabetes goes into remission in many patients who undergo bariatric weight-loss surgery, which significantly restricts caloric intake prior to clinically significant weight loss.