A 'fat-burning' gene that worsens diabetes in people has been identified by researchers at Karolinska Institutet in collaboration with researchers from Finland, China, Japan and the US.
The team of researchers led by Professor Juleen R. Zierath at Karolinska Institutet, have found previously unknown cellular mechanisms that may cause insulin resistance in people suffering with diabetes.
Type 2-diabetes is a chronic disease caused due to 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.
Due to this, the blood sugar level increases, thereby leading to a worsening of the insulin resistance and increasing the risk of developing many serious diabetes-associated complications.
The team of researchers have identified new molecular mechanisms by which elevated blood sugar leads to impaired insulin sensitivity in people with diabetes. They also pointed out a 'fat-burning' gene, the products of which are required to maintain the cells insulin sensitivity.
It was also discovered that this gene is reduced in muscle tissue from people with high blood sugar and type 2-diabetes. When the enzyme that is made by this gene is absent, muscles have reduced insulin sensitivity, impaired fat burning ability, causing 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. Our results underscore the importance of tight regulation of blood sugar for people with diabetes", said Professor Juleen Zierath.
The results of this study are published in the scientific journal Cell.