New Type 2 Diabetes Therapy Possibilities
A research team from the HSPH (Harvard School of Public Health) reveals a hormone that controls the regulation of glucose and the way the liver metabolizes it. Through the use of an experimental new technology, the researchers discovered that if this hormone is switched off, a better control over the production of glucose in the liver can be achieved. Their discovery, published in the journal Cell Metabolism on the 7th of May, could lead to new future type 2 diabetes treatments.
The senior author of the study, professor GÃ¶khan Hotamisligil, says that until now the mechanism underlying the liver glucose production has been puzzling researchers. “We now have identified aP2 as a novel hormone released from fat cells that controls this critical function”, added Hotamisligil. Researchers suggest that the link between the liver and the adipose tissue could have developed in order to aid the organism in case of severe nutrient deprivation. On the other hand, in obese patients, these fat cells appear to lose their capability of controlling the connection with the liver, thus increasing the amount of aP2, causing the liver to increase its production of glucose. The result of this process is the rise of blood glucose, which in time leads to the onset of type 2 diabetes.
More than 26 million United States citizens are currently affected by type 2 diabetes and other metabolic diseases. These disorders are closely linked to a higher risk of stroke, heart disease and several other health complications. Diabetes is most often linked to insulin resistance and obesity, the majority of type 2 diabetes cases being related to the failure of insulin action. Even so, scientists around the world have noticed that not all of the obese patients suffer from type 2 diabetes and that type 2 diabetes does not occur in all of the patients who are resistant to insulin. On the contrary, the majority of patients who suffer from severe obesity are not diabetic.
“It was surprising to find that a critical hormone playing a pathological role in diabetes turned out to be the secreted form of aP2”, said professor Hotamisligil, whilst adding that the researcher community has known that aP2 is a hormone that resides in the human fat cells. The research team from Harvard raised the levels of the aP2 hormone from normal laboratory mouse models in order to match the high levels of aP2 in obese human patients. The result was the inhibition of the glucose metabolism. Furthermore, researchers lowered the levels of aP2 levels in mouse models suffering from obesity and diabetes, to the normal levels seen in healthy mice. Their second experiment led to the normalization of the glucose metabolism.
Consequent to their discovery, the research team concluded that the levels of the aP2 hormone is directly linked to diabetes, thus being a potential new target for future type 2 diabetes therapies. Researchers also added that they have found a possible therapeutic role for an antibody that would neutralize the effect of aP2. The lead author of the study, fellow Haiming Cao, concludes that their discovery is important due to the fact that it reveals new possibilities in diabetes therapies and increases the capabilities of physicians towards diabetes treatment.