A paper by Liza Makowski, PhD, professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology and Oncology in the College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), has been published In the Journal of Immunology that provides novel insights into the biochemistry of the sugar glucose in immune cells critical to obesity and heart disease.
Glucose metabolism in white blood cells, or macrophages, has been thought to play an important role in the best way to fight infection or "turn on defense" in response to chronic stressors like high sugar or cholesterol in diabetes or heart disease.
"We wanted to test just how important glucose was in fighting disease," Makowski said.
Researchers found that when they inhibited glucose transporter 1 (GLUT1), the most important sugar transporter in cells, the macrophages adapted to use other biochemical substrates or biochemicals as fuels. This metabolic adaptation, however, was not sufficient enough for the macrophages to behave normally.
Makowski advises that these findings are significant because they show that glucose transportation is key for certain cellular functions and white blood cell stability.