With the help of mouse models, scientists discovered a significant amount of fatty acids used by the heart may be able to alleviate the detrimental effects of excess glucose caused by type 2 diabetes and enhance the pumping of the heart.

In this study Miguel Aon, PhD, senior study author at John Hopkins University School of Medicine, observed the hearts of both diabetic and normal mice and the effects of adding a hormone-like substance, isoproterenol, which acts like the body's natural catecholamine, to see how it responds to diabetes.  Catecholamine is usually activated when one’s body is under stress or is participating aerobics.

Scientists supplied the mice with a surplus of glucose and stimulated the hearts to beat quicker with isoproterenol. Compared to the normal hearts, the diabetic hearts were unable to contract or relax enough to keep up with the load and pump normally. Aon and his team also added twice the amount of fatty acids to both normal and diabetic hearts. Though the normal hearts displayed no change, it was demonstrated the diabetic hearts progressed to the level of the normal hearts.

According to Aon, fatty acids can improve the interchange of energy within cells and assist the heart to battle negative effects of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Despite the fact the molecules can maintain a positive role in signaling within the cells, an excess in ROS may lead to oxidative stress.

Aon discovered when people overeat the additional energy that becomes stored as fat can lead to being overweight or obese and may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. If one continues to excessively gain weight the additional fat can become lethal, crowding other cells. If one participates in aerobics it can break up the added fatty acids, which in turn will increase energy to the heart, thus improving the pumping of the heart.  

The results also provided scientists at John Hopkins University School of Medicine, the opportunity to understand why people who suffer from type 2 diabetes develop cardiomyopathy. Aon believes ultimately after a long period, once the heart receives less and less energy, the mechanical and electric functions that produces a normal heartbeat becomes impaired it can lead to cardiomyopathy—heart failure.

Lastly, glutathione, an antioxidant, was injected to the diabetic heart cells as a means to improve the mechanical function.

Scientist observed by increasing muscle cells to fatty acids, glutathione can occur naturally, displaying that glutathione and similar compounds could soon be treatment for people suffering with type 2 diabetes.

This study was published in the journal Diabetes.