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Deficiency of a Gene May Increase Risk of Diabetes and Liver Cancer in Males

Why doesn’t this gene affect females in the same way?…

Michigan State University researchers have discovered that a deficiency in a certain gene may cause males to become more susceptible to type 2 diabetes and liver cancer. This may be part of the explanation as to why diabetes is thought to be a risk factor for development of liver cancer, as well as why liver cancer is 2-4 times more prevalent in males as compared to females. The gene is called NCOA5 and is found in both males and females, although due to the genes interaction with estrogen a female with a deficiency of this gene will not have the same risks. It has also previously been thought that this same gene comes with a protective function against both of these diseases for women.

This susceptibility was discovered in a mouse study which identified that 94% of the male mice with a NCOA5 deficiency had development of cells which could lead to liver cancer, specifically a type called hepatocellular carcinoma. During this study it was also discovered that 100% of the male mice which had a deficiency of this gene had some level of glucose intolerance, which could later develop into type 2 diabetes. The expression of glucose intolerance occurred before the development of cancer cells.

With this new information, potential treatments need to be investigated regarding a way to reverse this deficiency in males in order to give them increased protection against development of these diseases.

Practice Pearls:

  • Deficiency of the NCOA5 gene in males has been found to increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and hepatocellular carcinoma.
  • Women do not have the same risks with this gene due to the gene’s interaction with elevated levels of estrogen.
  • In mice studies 100% of male mice with a NCOA5 deficiency had some level of glucose intolerance.

Cancer Cell, December 2013