A small protein that plays a big role in lowering plasma glucose and increasing insulin sensitivity and can help in controlling diabetes has been identified by scientists.
Indiana University School of Medicine researchers found that Sestrin 3 plays a critical role in regulating molecular pathways that control the production of glucose and insulin sensitivity in the liver, making it a logical target for drug development for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, which can produce increased blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels and insulin resistance.
Sestrin 3 is a member of a small family of proteins that have long been known to suppress oxidative stress and regulate normal cellular activity, thus making it an important regulator of metabolic homeostasis.
Lead author X. Charlie Dong and his colleagues monitored blood glucose levels and liver insulin sensitivity in mice with the endogenous Sestrin 3 protein and mice genetically engineered to not produce the protein and to examine the regulatory effects of Sestrin 3, the animals were fed a diet with 18 percent of its calories from fat or a high-fat diet with 60 percent of calories from fat.
It was found that the mice without the Sestrin 3 protein had elevated fasting blood glucose levels, indicative of impaired liver insulin sensitivity or poorly regulated glucose metabolism. Both insulin and glucose tolerance tests were significantly better in the mice with the Sestrin 3 protein, leading researchers to believe that the protein plays a critical role in hepatic insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism.
The researchers said that the findings have significant implications in the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes and could prove to be useful targets for modulation of insulin sensitivity and glucose homeostasis and as a target for therapeutic agents to increase liver function to prevent diabetes.
The study was published online in Diabetes, the journal of the American Diabetes Association.