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Heat shock proteins and heat therapy for type 2 diabetes

pros and cons

Krause, Mauricioa; Ludwig, Mirna Stelab; Heck, Thiago Gomesb; Takahashi, Hilton Kenjia

Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care: July 2015 - Volume 18 - Issue 4 - p 374–380
doi: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000183
GENES AND CELL METABOLISM: Edited by Paulo Ivo Homem de Bittencourt Jr. and Philip Newsholme
Editor's Choice

Purpose of review Heat therapy, such as sauna and hot tub, has become an increasingly regular therapeutical practice around the world since several studies have shown benefits of heat therapy in metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. The use of heat therapy in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus revealed a striking reduction of 1% unit in the glycated hemoglobin, suggesting this therapy for the treatment of diabetes. Herein, we shall discuss the use of heat therapy and the mechanisms involved, and suggest a provisional guide for the use of heat therapy in obesity and diabetes.

Recent findings Human studies indicate that heat therapy reduces fasting glycemia, glycated hemoglobin, body weight, and adiposity. Animal studies have indicated that nitric oxide and the increase in heat shock protein 70 expression is involved in the improvements induced by heat therapy on insulin sensitivity, adiposity, inflammation, and vasomotricity.

Summary Heat therapy is a promising and inexpensive tool for the treatment of obesity and diabetes. We proposed that transient increments in nitric oxide and heat shock protein 70 levels may explain the benefits of heat therapy. We suggest that heat therapy (sauna: 80–100°C; hot tub: at 40°C) for 15 min, three times a week, for 3 months, is a safe method to test its efficiency.

aLaboratory of Cellular Physiology, Department of Physiology, Institute of Basic Health Sciences, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre

bResearch Group in Physiology (GPeF), Postgraduate Program in Integral Attention to Health (PPGAIS-UNIJUI/UNICRUZ), Department of Life Sciences, Regional University of Northwestern Rio Grande do Sul State (UNIJUJÍ), Ijuí, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

Correspondence to Professor Mauricio Krause, Laboratory of Cellular Physiology, Department of Physiology, Institute of Basic Health Sciences, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Rua Sarmento Leite, 500, 2° andar – Lab 02, Porto-Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul 90050-170, Brazil. Tel: +55 51 33083151; fax: +55 51 33084555; e-mail:

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