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What was hot at the American Diabetes Meeting last week? First all, the things
that have been under study are progressing. This includes new medications, new
insulins, new meters, immunology etc. For me, what was striking was the number
of sessions on exercise and its value in controlling blood glucose. Some of it
was clinical and practical but the real winner was the identification of a
protein called IRISIN. It was named after the greek god Iris who was the
messenger between the home of the gods and earth. Irisin is produced in the
muscles and does a few wonderful things.
We have two kinds of fat in the body. White or yellow fat is storage. Brown fat is not storage but contains an energy control system. Irisin production increases with exercise, especially resistance, and stimulates the energy mechanism to release heat. In addition, Irisin stimulates the same molecules that rosi-and pioglitazone do but without the side effects. The net result is increased insulin sensitivity, reduced dosage and weight loss.
This is an unfinished story. The final interesting fact is that the “brown fat” can turn into muscle under the right circumstances. This may be very important in aging when muscles normally atrophy, contributing to weakness and falling.