According to a study published in the journal Cell Metabolism, researchers have found that enzymes linked to diabetes and obesity appear to play key roles in arthritis and leukemia, opening up new avenues for treating these diverse diseases.
The same enzymes involved in turning carbohydrates into the building blocks of fats, influence the health of specialized white blood cells (neutrophils) that act as first line of defense when infection strikes.
Abnormally high levels of neutrophils also are common in patients with leukemia and they also are a hallmark of inflammation, a key component of rheumatoid arthritis.
In the study, mice that couldn’t make enzymes needed to produce a certain type of fat which developed extremely low white blood cell counts, with very few neutrophils. Without this fat, called an ether lipid, neutrophils died.
This could lead to targeting of ether lipids (fatty acids) as a way to reduce the number of neutrophils in inflammatory diseases and leukemia.