In This Article
- Researchers investigated intraepithelial T lymphocytes, which may play a crucial role in regulating metabolism
- In mice, the integrin beta 7 protein guides these immune cells to the small intestine, allowing the mice to convert more food into energy than to be stored in fat
- Researchers believe that the intraepithelial T cells regulate metabolism through GLP-1, which increases insulin secretion and glucose uptake
- When intraepithelial T cells are present, they reduce the activity of GLP-1, which slows down metabolism and causes fat accumulation
In a study published in Nature, Massachusetts General Hospital researchers led by Filip K. Swirski, PhD, principal investigator at the Center for Systems Biology, investigated intraepithelial T lymphocytes—immune cells that are in the lining of the small intestine. These cells may play a crucial role in regulating metabolism and may also be a therapeutic target for obesity and heart disease.
A protein called integrin beta-7 guides immune cells to the small intestine. Mice that lacked this gene that encodes integrin beta-7 demonstrated the ability to transform more food into energy rather than fat. These mice also burned more glucose in brown fat and were more glucose tolerant, and in comparison to the control group, they had lower triglyceride levels and better fat tolerance.
The researchers believe that intraepithelial T cells regulate metabolism through GLP-1, which increases insulin secretion and glucose uptake. Type 2 diabetes therapies target GLP-1 and its receptors. When intraepithelial T cells are present in the small intestine microbiome, they reduce the activity of GLP-1, which slows down metabolism and causes fat accumulation.
The microbiome of the gastrointestinal tract may provide many answers about metabolic disorders. However, more research needs to be done to understand the exact process of how intraepithelial T lymphocytes affect GLP-1 and metabolism and to create new therapies.
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