A potential therapeutic target for controlling high blood sugar levels has been identified by scientists from University of Michigan School of Kinesiology.
The researchers have come across certain proteins that could lead to new drug therapies.
Understanding these proteins may also help in devising more effective exercise to prevent Type 2 diabetes, and such other health problems as are associated with having high blood sugar.
Lead researcher Gregory Cartee, professor at the University of Michigan School of Kinesiology, has revealed that Insulin and muscle contractions are the two most important stimuli to increase glucose transport into muscle cells. Cells then use the glucose for energy.
However, they aren't entirely sure how this works.
Cartee and colleague Katsuhiko Funai, a graduate student researcher in kinesiology, looked at how two different proteins believed to be important in stimulating glucose transport react to two different enzymes also related to glucose transport.
The researchers' objective was to understand the contribution of the two proteins, AS160 and TBC1D1, in skeletal muscle stimulated by insulin.
"We're trying to rule out or rule in which proteins are important with exercise," Cartee said.
The study revealed that the protein TBC1D1 was more important for exercise-stimulated glucose transport, and suggested that the second protein, AS160, might be less important for this effect of exercise.
By focusing on the protein that works best-in this case, TBC1D-scientists can develop ways to make that protein work better for insulin-resistant people.
"Almost all people with Type 2 diabetes have muscle insulin resistance," he said.
"This doesn't cause diabetes by itself, but it's an essential component that contributes to Type 2 diabetes. This impacts millions of people. Even for people who aren't diabetic, insulin resistance is associated with lots of health problems," he added.
The researchers would be conducting further studies to understand what exactly TBC1D1 does to promote glucose transport during and after exercise.