Hormone may protect against development of insulin resistance during weight gain

Sep 23rd, 2013

by Sharon Gray

Farrell Cahill, PhD student
Hormone may protect against development of insulin resistance during weight gain

Farrell Cahill, a PhD student under the supervision of Dr. Guang Sun in the Faculty of Medicine, has discovered evidence that may shed new light on how the hormone adiponectin may aid in the attenuation of insulin resistance development during weight gain. The study, titled Short-term Overfeeding Increases Circulating Adiponectin Independent of Obesity Status, was published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE on Aug. 30.

 “Insulin resistance comprises about 90 per cent of all diabetic cases and has become an ever increasing health-care challenge with a significant fiscal burden,” said Mr. Cahill. “This is especially relevant to Newfoundland and Labrador considering it has one the highest rates of diabetes and obesity in Canada.” 

 Mr. Cahill explained that the accumulation of white adipose tissue (WAT) is the product of a chronic positive energy balance in an obesogenic environment.

“Numerous disorders such as insulin resistance have shown a strong association with the accumulation of fat mass. Once regarded as a site for energy storage, recent research has shown that WAT secretes a large number of physiologically active proteins thus playing an integral role in human endocrinology and energy homeostasis.”

Adiponectin, an insulin sensitizing and anti-inflammatory hormone, is one such protein released from adipose tissue. 

“Accumulating evidence suggests that adiponectin is strongly associated with glucose and lipid metabolism, and that its potential protective role is hampered by the fact that circuiting adiponectin is low in overweight/obese,” said Mr. Cahill. “However, our study has shown for the first time that circulating adiponectin levels, independent of adiposity, will increase to potentially aid in the attenuation of insulin resistance during weight gain. After a seven-day positive energy challenge in 64 young male volunteers from the St. John’s area, it was found that circulating adiponectin concentration significantly increased independent of obesity status. The findings are a positive step in indicating that adiponectin can equally protect obese and non-obese individuals from the development of insulin resistance.”

The authors in the paper are Farrell Cahill, Peyvand Amini, Danny Wadden, Sammy Khalili, Edward Randell, Sudesh Vasdev, Wayne Gulliver, and Dr. Sun. Dr. Sun and Mr. Cahill have made many important discoveries in the fields of human genetics, endocrinology and nutrition regarding obesity and diabetes.

For more information, visit www.med.mun.ca/N-RIG/Home.aspx