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Study Finds How Obesity Triggers Diabetes, May Help Prevent And Delay Disease

Examining tissue samples from people who were thin or overweight, and with and without diabetes, the researchers found that the people with diabetes were deficient in an enzyme that removes palmitate from beta cells

Study Finds How Obesity Triggers Diabetes, May Help Prevent And Delay Disease
According to the study, when a person has too much body fat, it signals beta cells in the pancreas to secrete more insulin

Washington: A new study has uncovered details about the mechanism of how obesity triggers diabetes, which could provide researchers with a target to help prevent or delay diabetes in some of those at risk.
People who are overweight or obese have a significantly increased risk of developing diabetes, but exactly how that happens is not well understood. The researchers at Washington University School of Medicine, US, found that many people with elevated levels of insulin – an early marker of diabetes risk – also have defects in an enzyme important to the processing of a key fatty acid from the diet. The findings have been published in the journal Cell Metabolism.

Also Watch: The Rise Of Obesity In India

Between 30 million and 40 million people in the United States have Type 2 diabetes, and another 90 million to 100 million have risk factors that make them likely to develop Type 2 diabetes in the future. Many at risk for diabetes have elevated levels of insulin, a hallmark of insulin resistance and a signal that means trouble may be brewing.
“If we could intervene before they actually develop diabetes, we might be able to prevent significant health problems – such as heart disease, chronic kidney disease, nerve damage, vision loss and other problems – in a great number of people, said senior investigator Clay F. Semenkovich.

According to the study, when a person has too much body fat, it signals beta cells in the pancreas to secrete more insulin. When insulin levels become elevated and remain high, the body can become resistant to insulin, and eventually the beta cells that secrete insulin can fail, leading to diabetes.
Studying human tissue samples, the researchers found that the overproduction of insulin involves a process called palmitoylation. This is the process by which cells attach the fatty acid palmitate to proteins.

Also Watch: Understanding The Rise In Childhood Obesity And Ways To Prevent It

Thousands of human proteins can be attached to palmitate, but the researchers found that when this fatty acid isn’t removed from proteins in beta cells, diabetes is the end result. Examining tissue samples from people who were thin or overweight, and with and without diabetes, the researchers found that the people with diabetes were deficient in an enzyme that removes palmitate from beta cells, the study said.

They hyper-secrete insulin because this process goes awry, and they can’t appropriately regulate the release of insulin from beta cells. Regulating insulin release is controlled in part by this palmitoylation process, explained Mr. Semenkovich.

The research team also genetically engineered a mouse that was deficient in the enzyme called APT1, an enzyme responsible for palmitate removal from proteins. The engineered mice went on to develop diabetes, the study said.

Because impaired APT1 function contributed to diabetes risk, the researchers worked with the university’s Centre for Drug Discovery to screen and identify compounds that can increase the activity of the APT1 enzyme, the study said.

We’ve found several candidate drugs, and we’re pursuing those. We think that by increasing APT1 activity, we might reverse this process and potentially prevent people at risk from progressing to diabetes, he further said.

Although he said the new findings identifying APT1 as a target are an important step, Semenkovich explained that APT1 is only one treatment target among many.

There are several ways that Type 2 diabetes may develop. This enzyme is not the answer, but it’s an answer, and it appears we have some promising tools that might keep some people with prediabetes from developing diabetes, he said.

Also Read: Mother’s Consumption Of Ultra-Processed Foods Linked To Risk Of Obesity In Children: Study

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ populationindigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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