A missing link in how the insulin system is triggered and halted has now been found, which may lead to new treatments for type 2 diabetes patients.
Researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have discovered how the enzyme OGT (short for O-linked ß-N-acetylglucosamine transferase), is the last link in a chain of enzymes that are responsible for transport sugars in and out of cells.
OGT and Fat Storage
OGT apparently shuts down insulin signaling soon after the body begins to pull glucose from the blood stream, causing the sugars to be stored in fat pads on in the liver.
"For the first time we have a real understanding of how the insulin signaling system is turned on and off," says Howard Hughes Medical Investigator Ronald M. Evans, Ph.D., a professor in the Salk Institute’s Gene Expression Laboratory, who led the study that appears in the Feb. 21 issue of Nature.
With abundant food, excessive quantities of nutrients increase these enzyme levels, resulting in a dampened insuling response and a progresion of insulin resistance.
Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes
Most people with insulin resistance will eventualy have type 2 diabetes within a decade, unless they lose 5-7 percent of their body weight with healthy eating and fitness. Successful permanent weight loss can be difficult; these new findings may lead to drugs that make it easier to control blood sugar, lose weight, and help type 2 diabetes to go into remission.
Evans hopes that "this [discovery] could lead to a new class of insulin-sensitizing drugs that loosen the brake and let insulin work a little bit longer."