Researchers from Wageningen UR have observed changes in the blood of pigs that could be used to detect the earliest manifestations of these metabolic disorders. Their research has been published in the leading journal PLoS ONE. This discovery is so promising that researchers are planning further research in humans in cooperation with an academic medical centre.
Obesity and certain types of diabetes are common diseases of affluence. Up to 25% of all people with diabetes are unaware of their situation. By detecting these metabolic disorders at a very early stage, adverse health effects could be avoided. However, a test for detecting the earliest stages has been lacking until now.
Researchers at Wageningen UR Livestock Research used the pig as a model for humans because their metabolisms are very similar. The pigs were fed various diets. In healthy pigs that were fed a diet high in saturated fat, changes in the protein composition of the blood were observed. These changes were not present in pigs that were fed a diet high in unsaturated fat. Similar changes were observed in diabetic pigs that were given a high saturated fat diet. Assuming sufficient similarities between humans and pigs, these findings could be developed into a test for the early detection of these nutrition-related chronic diseases.