Diabetes Center Recruits Inflammation Expert

Suneil Koliwad, MD, of the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease has joined the faculty of the UCSF Diabetes Center to continue his research involving inflammation and the role it plays in diabetes. Dr. Koliwad, a practicing endocrinologist, is an expert in understanding how the cellular balance of fat cells - called adipocytes, and macrophages - the body’s scavengers of dead cells, contributes to the development of inflammation in chronic obesity.

When individuals become overweight, their adipocytes fill up with dietary fat and die. When the macrophages dispose of these dead cells, they become inflamed and secrete immune factors called cytokines. These cytokines over time help to cause insulin resistance, diabetes and heart disease.

By increasing the amount of an enzyme called DGAT1 through bone marrow transplantation in mice, Dr. Koliwad and his colleagues are able to generate mice with macrophages that can store more fat. These altered macrophages are not only protected from the inflammatory response to a high fat diet, they protect obese mice from developing serious complications, including insulin resistance.  Because humans possess DGAT1 in microphages and adipocytes quite similar to that seen in mice, these results provide a new avenue in which to explore new ways to prevent type 2 diabetes in obese people.