Aug. 9 (UPI) -- Researchers have identified a potential target to treat obesity and diabetes through regulation of energy in the body, according to a study of mice.
In findings released Thursday in JCI Insight, researchers from the Colorado School of Medicine outline the biological function of an epigenetic modifier known as histone deacetylase and its potential as a treatment target.
White adipose tissue stores energy and brown adipose tissue produces heat, which in turn expends energy.
By increasing energy amounts, the researchers believe a regulatory node could lead to new drugs to treat obesity and diabetes.
They learned that deleting HDAC11 in mice stimulates brown adipose tissue formation and the absence of the modifier also triggered beiging of white adipose tissue.
"Through our investigation we found that inhibiting HDAC11 increases energy expenditure, which highlights its potential as a target in obesity and metabolic disease therapeutic strategies," corresponding author Dr. Timothy A. McKinsey, associate professor of medicine at Colorado, said in a press release. "We now need to test the role of HDAC11 in large animal models of metabolic disease and in human cell systems as we attempt to translate these exciting findings to the clinic."
Obesity and type 2 diabetes are so closely linked that the term "diabesity" has been coined, according to a study on the dual condition published by the National Institutes of Health. Obese people become diabetic with a progressive defect in insulin secretion coupled with rise in insulin resistance.
Besides diet and exercise, obesity can be reduced by bariatric surgery or drugs that decrease energy intake
In the study, mice lacking HDAC11 were protected from obesity, insulin resistance and other high-fat feeding effects. Besides suggesting a previously unrecognized role for HDAC11, they found an associated protein known as BRD2 in the control of adipose tissue.
"The findings uncovered a druggable transcriptional pathway for regulation of energy expenditure, and thus suggest novel approaches for combating the global pandemics of obesity and diabetes based on HDAC11 inhibition," McKinsey said.