NEW YORK (Dispatches) -- University of Arizona researchers believe the liver may hold the key to new, preventative Type 2 diabetes treatments.
Benjamin Renquist, an associate professor in the UArizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and his collaborators focused on fatty liver, measuring neurotransmitters released from the liver in animal models of obesity, to better understand how the liver communicates with the brain to influence metabolic changes seen in obesity and diabetes.
“We found that fat in the liver increased the release of the inhibitory neurotransmitter Gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA,” Renquist said. “We then identified the pathway by which GABA synthesis was occurring and the key enzyme that is responsible for liver GABA production -- GABA transaminase.”
A naturally occurring amino acid, GABA is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, meaning it decreases nerve activity.
Nerves provide a conduit by which the brain and the rest of the body communicate. That communication is not only from the brain to other tissues, but also from tissues back to the brain, Renquist explained.