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Study: Obesity and Diabetes from Stress


Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry: Stress protein promotes obesity and diabetes

Excessive stress is associated with numerous negative health effects. According to a current study, an increased risk of obesity and diabetes must be counted for this. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry (MPI) have shown that the development of obesity and diabetes is promoted by a stress protein.

According to the MPI scientists, they were able to demonstrate a new, surprising role for the stress protein FKBP51. This acts as a molecular link between the stress regulation system and metabolic processes in the body. The presence of the protein in muscle tissue leads to an increased risk of obesity and diabetes. This finding could also open up completely new approaches to treatment. The researchers have published the results of their current investigations in the journal "Nature communications".

Far-reaching effects of the stress protein

Previous studies have shown that the FKBP51 protein is associated with depressive disorders and anxiety disorders. Because it plays an important role in regulating the stress system and if this is disturbed, mental illnesses can arise, the researchers explain. However, the connection with the metabolic processes in the body was previously unknown. "FKBP51 influences a signal cascade in muscle tissue, which leads to the development of glucose intolerance if the caloric intake is too high, ie the core symptom of type II diabetes," reports project leader Mathias Schmidt from the MPI.

Blocking the protein prevents diabetes

Basically, a high intake of high-fat, unhealthy nutrition means stress for the body, whereupon FKBP51 is increasingly formed in the muscle, the scientists explain. However, this fatally leads to a reduced intake of glucose, which can lead to diabetes and obesity. If FKBP51 is blocked, there is no diabetes, even if an excess supply of calories is still added, i.e. the stress for the body remains, according to the experts. Less FKBP51 in muscle tissue means less glucose intolerance and thus a normal metabolism.

New treatment approaches in sight?

The scientists also hope that their research will have therapeutic benefits in the future, because the stress protein FKBP51 can be pharmacologically inhibited by special molecules that have been developed at the MPI. "These findings provide a completely new treatment approach for diabetes and other metabolic diseases," emphasizes Alon Chen, director at the Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry. (fp)

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