Diabetes: The Impaired Fat-Burning Gene and Insulin Resistance

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According to researchers, previously unknown cellular mechanisms are responsible for causing insulin resistance in people with type 2 diabetes.

A New Culprit for Insulin Resistance

The research team, led by Professor Juleen R. Zierath at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, has identified a ‘fat-burning’ gene.  The enzymes manufactured by this gene are necessary for cells to remain sensitive to insulin.  People with type 2 diabetes and high blood sugar have reduced genes in muscle tissue, fewer enzymes, and therefore reduced insulin sensitivity and impaired fat burning ability. It all adds up to an increased risk of developing obesity.

Insulin Resistance and Type 2-diabetes

The pancreas’ inability to produce insulin and /or the body’s lack of responsiveness to insulin occurs over time with type 2 diabetes, leading to a rise in blood sugar. Higher levels of glucose in the blood, in turn, promote insulin resistance, putting diabetics at risk for disease-related complications.

The Silver Lining

The impaired fat-burning cell can bounce back with a healthy lifestyle that includes fitness and healthy eating, or with medications.

"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."

Publication:
Down-Regulation of Diacylglycerol Kinase Delta Contributes to Hyperglycemia-Induced Insulin Resistance
Alexander V. Chibalin, Ying Leng, Elaine Vieira, Anna Krook, Marie Björnholm, Yun Chau Long, Olga Kotova, Zhihui Zhong, Fumio Sakane, Tatiana Steiler, Carolina Nylén, Jianjun Wang, Markku Laakso, Matthew K. Topham, Marc Gilbert, Harriet Wallberg-Henriksson, and Juleen R. Zierath
Cell, 8 February 2008, online 7 February 2008

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