High fat foods can have damaging effects on those with diabetes and metabolic syndrome, according to a recent Health System lab study done at the University of Michigan.

Obesity, which increases the risk for type 2 diabetes can come from eating high fat foods. Indulgent eating can lead to novel approaches in treating diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

A key protein called Bcl10, researchers have learned is needed for the free fatty acids, which are found in high fat foods and stored in body fat. Mice that are deficient in this protein were protected against insulin resistance when fed a high fat diet, according to the study.

Insulin resistance can lead to abnormal sugar levels, which can then lead to diabetes. Insulin resistance can also be part of a metabolic condition, which also increases the risk for heart disease.

Overweight is on the increase in America and raising the incidence of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Senior study author Dr. Peter C. Lucas, associate professor of pathology at the University of Michigan says, “That even short-term diet changes, such as consuming a large amount of fatty foods can induce a state of insulin resistance.”

Researchers started by investigating how free fatty acids can impair insulin action in the liver. It’s known that the liver is a major target for dangerous effects of free fatty acids.

Diacylglycerols are produced in the liver from free fatty acids, which undergo metabolism to induce an inflammatory response. Diacylglycerols also activate NF-kB signaling. This has been associated with cancer, metabolic and vascular diseases.

“Bcl10 surprisingly plays a critical role in immune cell response to infection,” says Lucas. “

In conclusion, the team of researchers found that Bcl10 is needed for fatty acids to produce inflammation in the liver. Bcl10 deficient mice showed a great deal of improvement in the managing of blood sugar.

Linda M. McAllister-Lucas, co-senior author who is associate professor of pediatric hematology/oncology at the University of Michigan says, “These findings reveal an important role for Bcl10 and could lead to new findings for treating patients with type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.”

Bcl10 findings will be published May 31 in Cell Reports.