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Whole-body vibration could spare teens from type 2 diabetes

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Whole-body vibration found to lower glucose levels in mouse studies.

A unique finding from Georgia Health Sciences University research shows daily vibration might help thwart diabetes for teens that show signs of insulin resistance or prediabetes from obesity.

Vibration technology was originally developed in the former Soviet Union to help prevent bone loss and muscle wasting on cosmonauts. In 2010, Medical College of Georgia researchers found the therapy might help prevent age-related bone density loss that leads to osteoporosis.

In mouse studies, the researchers tested whole-body vibration delivered for 20 minutes for 8 weeks in mice. They found the therapy lowered HgA1C levels.

For their studies, researchers use mice deficient in the hunger hormone leptin.

Dr. Jack C. Yu, Chief of the Section of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Health Sciences University explained in a press release that just 4 days of vibration therapy improved the ability of the body to manage glucose surges in normal mice.

Yu, who is also a craniofacial surgeon, routinely performs breast reductions on obese and prediabetic adolescent males. He also studies bone formation and developed the whole body vibrator used in the studies with the help of Biomedical Engineer Karl H. Wenger.

He explains in a press release, "The only way to burn fat is to exercise. We shake the bone for you rather than the body's muscle shaking it. This is a highly efficient way to fool the bone into thinking we are exercising."

One of the reasons vibration might help curb diabetes is because it stimulates osteocalcin that’s necessary to keep bones strong. Osteoclastin also signals the pancreas to release insulin.

Gerard Karsenty, MD, PhD, chair of the Department of Genetics and Development at Columbia University Medical Center explained in a 2010 news release: "Insulin is a street-smart molecule that takes advantage of the functional interplay between bone resorption and osteocalcin, to turn-on the secretion and synthesis of more insulin."

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Karsenty and his team suggested there may be ways to boost osteocalcin in the body to treat type 2 diabetes, in findings published in the journal Cell.

Another possible explanation for why vibration therapy could work to curb diabetes is because it boosts immune system function.

Type 2 diabetes brought about by obesity upsets immune system balance leading to inflammation that is a hallmark of type 2 diabetes.

Researchers believe fat causes inflammation that the immune system misidentifies as infection; leading to more inflammation and more fat storage.

Yu found that vibration calms cytokines (inflammatory molecules) like Th17 and boosts proteins like FoxP3 that helps restore immune system balance.

Mice given vibration therapy also seemed to like the treatment. Yu said there was no effect on controlling glucose surges in older, normal mice.

The next step is to test the therapy in prediabetic teens who, like many individuals, fail to exercise regularly.

In the study, daily whole-body vibration dramatically reduced inflammation and blood glucose levels in mice; measured by HgA1C levels. The therapy also reversed symptoms of frequent urination that accompany high blood sugar levels.

Georgia Health Sciences University
October 19, 2012

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