Nav: Home

Discovery could lead to treatment to better regulate insulin

July 12, 2016

AMES, Iowa - Medication can help trigger the enzyme that kick starts insulin production in the body, but the drugs don't always work for those who are obese or diabetic, and most need to regulate their glucose and insulin levels. That's why a recent discovery made by Rudy Valentine and a team of researchers holds so much promise.

The team has spent years studying the enzyme AMP-activated protein kinase or AMPK - a main energy sensor in the body. Valentine, an assistant professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University, says AMPK is reduced in obese and diabetics, putting them at risk for metabolic complications, such as stroke, heart disease and some forms of cancer.

Researchers know a lot about how to activate this enzyme, but are working to understand why AMPK is being reduced, he said. By examining the molecular and cellular process, Valentine and his colleagues at Boston University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School came up with another piece of the puzzle. They found the protein PKD1 may limit AMPK's activity, which leads to impaired insulin signaling in the muscle, a hallmark of diabetes, Valentine said. The results were published earlier this year in The Journal of Biological Chemistry.

"It's a pretty technical process," he said. "There are probably a lot of different molecules that are also involved in this process, but this is definitely one of the mechanisms by which the molecule AMPK is downregulated."

One way to help understand the process is to think of AMPK as a commuter train or bus you take to and from work. PKD1 is like a construction project blocking the exits from the road or tracks and backing up traffic. In your body, PKD1 slows the cells that remove glucose from the bloodstream causing a "back up" or increase of blood glucose, which has significant consequences. Valentine says it's also similar to trying to accelerate with your foot on the brake and PKD1 is the brake.

Once researchers identified PKD1 as a potential problem, they took two different approaches - one using medication and the other involved gene silencing to inhibit PKD1 - to determine if it's possible to restrain or prevent the enzyme from limiting AMPK. Valentine says they're encouraged by the fact that lowering PKD1 by both approaches effectively restored AMPK activity and insulin signaling. The next step is to determine if existing drugs or modifying certain drugs may be an effective treatment option.

Exercise may also have potential

As an exercise physiologist, Valentine is interested in the impact of physical activity and nutrition in this process. Researchers know that when AMPK is activated it helps the body realize the metabolic benefits of exercise, which can improve insulin sensitivity. Valentine says diet may also play a role.

"We want to know if there are lifestyle things people can do such as nutraceuticals and certain foods that can inhibit this enzyme and lead to more activation of AMPK and improve insulin sensitivity," Valentine said.

Exercise may not be a practical solution for people with physical impairments or other health issues. However, Valentine says the work may help identify areas they can target with other types of therapy.
-end-
Lead author Kimberly A. Coughlan, along with Bella S. Sudit, Katherine Allen, Neil B. Ruderman and Asish K. Saha, all at Boston University School of Medicine; as well as Yossi Dagon and Barbara B. Kahn, both at Harvard Medical School, contributed to this research. The study was supported by grants from U.S. Public Health Services, National Institutes of Health and the JPB Foundation.

Iowa State University

Related Glucose Articles:

Cannabinoids decrease the metabolism of glucose in the brain
What happens when THC acts on the glial cells named astrocytes ?
What drives inflammation in type 2 diabetes? Not glucose, says new research
Research led by Barbara Nikolajczyk, Ph.D., disproved the conventional wisdom that glucose was the primary driver of chronic inflammation in type 2 diabetes.
ALS patients may benefit from more glucose
A new study led by scientists at the UA has uncovered a potential new way to treat patients with ALS, a debilitating neurodegenerative disease.
Artificial muscles powered by glucose
Artificial muscles made from polymers can now be powered by energy from glucose and oxygen, just like biological muscles.
Efficiently producing fatty acids and biofuels from glucose
Researchers have presented a new strategy for efficiently producing fatty acids and biofuels that can transform glucose and oleaginous microorganisms into microbial diesel fuel, with one-step direct fermentative production.
Protein released from fat after exercise improves glucose
Exercise training causes dramatic changes to fat. Additionally, this 'trained' fat releases beneficial factors into the bloodstream.
WSU researchers create 3D-printed glucose biosensors
A 3D-printed glucose biosensor for use in wearable monitors has been created by Washington State University researchers.
Gut protein mutations shield against spikes in glucose
Why is it that, despite consuming the same number of calories, sodium and sugar, some people face little risk of diabetes or obesity while others are at higher risk?
Glucose binding molecule could transform the treatment of diabetes
Scientists from the University of Bristol have designed a new synthetic glucose binding molecule platform that brings us one step closer to the development of the world's first glucose-responsive insulin which, say researchers, will transform the treatment of diabetes.
Nutrients may reduce blood glucose levels
One amino acid, alanine, may produce a short-term lowering of glucose levels by altering energy metabolism in the cell.
More Glucose News and Glucose Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Warped Reality
False information on the internet makes it harder and harder to know what's true, and the consequences have been devastating. This hour, TED speakers explore ideas around technology and deception. Guests include law professor Danielle Citron, journalist Andrew Marantz, and computer scientist Joy Buolamwini.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.