Food and type 2 diabetes

With more than 400 million diabetics worldwide, diabetes is a leading cause of death and represents an enormous social and economic burden. T2D, constituting 90% of the cases, is closely associated with obesity. It is generally accepted that exercise and a healthy diet are the most efficient means to prevent and manage the disease. For example, there is evidence for an inverse correlation between dairy intake and development of T2D, and many studies have found that fish oils decrease the risk of or counteract T2D. Interestingly, coffee seems to be one of the best means to prevent development of T2D in our diet. The molecular mechanisms behind these effects are however poorly understood. A central hypothesis of this project is that the effects of these and other foodstuff on T2D are at least partly mediated through specific effects on FFARs. The effects of diverse dietary fatty acids on these receptors will therefore be characterized. Food constituents with specific activity on FFARs will be investigated further in clinical studies with healthy and diabetic individuals.

The free fatty acid receptors (FFARs)

This project focus on five receptors that recently have been found to be activated by free fatty acids of differnet chain-lenght and type. They are all G protein-coupled 7-transmembrane receptors, also known as GPCRs or 7TM receptors.

  • FFA1 (GPR40) is a long-chain free fatty acid receptor that is expressed in pancreas  and increase insuline secretion when the plasma glucose level is high.
  • FFA2 (GPR43) is a short-chain free fatty acid receptor
  • FFA3 (GPR41) is a short-chain free fatty acid receptor
  • FFA4  (GPR120) is a receptor of long-chain free fatty acids and is associated with insulin sensitization and anti-inflammatory effects.
  • GPR84 is a medium-chain fatty acid receptor responding most strongly to capric acid (C10)