January 23, 2012

Continuing with fructose, our focus now shifts towards the effects on the liver.  Some of you might have heard of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which is the accumulation of fat inside the liver that eventually leads to inflammation, scarring, and finally, cirrhosis (when the scar tissue replaces the actual liver cells).  Through the mechanisms of storing fat outside of normal fat depots (what we call ectopic fat depositions), scientists believe this creates a milieu of metabolites that eventually leads to insulin resistance and, subsequently, Type 2 Diabetes.  I’ll keep it short this time.

If you look at Figure 1, you can see that ingesting large amounts of fructose (in this case it was equal to 4L of soda/day, yikes) causes an increase in de novo lipogenesis from the liver.  It is also known to increase fasting triglycerides, which this study suggests a correlation between the two.  I know this large amount is not comparable to everyday ingestion for a normal person but nonetheless it shows you the possibility.

The second figure is another study that shows increases in ectopic lipids (IMCL = intramyocellular lipids and IHCL = intrahepatocellular lipids) as well as triglycerides.

In regards to insulin resistance, the third figure from another study actually done here in the department of physiology shows indeed, even fructose overfeeding decreases hepatic insulin sensitivity.

Finally, the last figure is a proposed pathway by Prof. Luc Tappy on how fructose can lead to insulin resistance through several different mechanisms.

Figures adapted with aid of Prof. Luc Tappy MD, PhD

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    In summary, EAT HEALTHY!
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