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Impaired Fat-burning Gene Worsens Diabetes

Feb 12, 2008
 

Researchers have discovered new cellular mechanisms that lead to in insulin resistance in people with diabetes.

Type 2-diabetes is a chronic disease resulting from a reduction in insulin-production from the pancreas or an inability of other tissues in the body to respond adequately to the produced insulin, so called insulin resistance. This leads to increased blood sugar, which in turn leads to a worsening of the insulin resistance, increasing the risk of developing many serious diabetes-associated complications.

 

An international research team, led by Professor Juleen R. Zierath at Karolinska Institutet have identified previously unknown molecular mechanisms by which elevated blood sugar leads to impaired insulin sensitivity in people with diabetes.
The research team identified a ‘fat-burning’ gene, the products of which are required to maintain the cells insulin sensitivity. They also discovered that this gene is reduced in muscle tissue from people with high blood sugar and type 2-diabetes. In the absence of the enzyme that is made by this gene, muscles have reduced insulin sensitivity, impaired fat burning ability, which leads to an increased risk of developing obesity.

"The expression of this gene is reduced when blood sugar rises, but activity can be restored if blood sugar is controlled by pharmacological treatment or exercise", says Professor Juleen Zierath. "Our results underscore the importance of tight regulation of blood sugar for people with diabetes."

Down-Regulation of Diacylglycerol Kinase Delta Contributes to Hyperglycemia-Induced Insulin Resistance. Cell, February 8, 2008, online February 7, 2008

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FACT: Nuts and berries fight metabolic syndrome: In another study, researchers found that people who supplemented their everyday diet with 2-3 ounces of pistachios per day for four weeks showed significantly improved cholesterol ratios, perhaps due to their increased intake of fiber and lower intake of saturated fat. This study was published in the Journal of the AmericanCollege of Nutrition. "This research challenges the previously held belief that a low-fat diet is best for heart health. Studies now show that a diet with a moderate amount of healthful monounsaturated fat, like the kind found in pistachios, is a more effective way to prevent heart disease than reducing overall fat intake," said lead researcher James Cooper.

An estimated 50 million people suffer from metabolic syndrome in the United States, placing them at a doubled risk of cardiovascular disease and five times the risk of diabetes compared with those who do not have the syndrome.