As the number of people with type 2 diabetes continues to rise, researchers are working to understand exactly why this is.
Increasing obesity rates have put more people at risk of developing diabetes, and now we have a new clue as to how. In an article appearing in the 21 July 2005 issue of Nature (Vol. 436, No. 7049, pp. 354-360), researchers describe how a protein called RBP4, which is released by fat tissue, causes insulin resistance in mice. Elevated levels of this protein had previously been detected in diabetes patients, but a causal link was not suspected.
Barbara Kahn and her colleagues found that raising levels of RBP4 causes insulin resistance, whereas lowering it has the opposite effect. They also discovered that insulin-sensitizing medications lowered the level of this protein. The scientists suggest that lowering RBP4 levels might serve as a viable strategy for treating type 2 diabetes.
"Yang and colleagues' findings may provide the solution to a long-standing paradox in diabetes research," write Deborah Muoio and Christopher Newgard in a related News & Views piece.
Barbara B. Kahn (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center / Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA)
Christopher Newgard (Duke University, Durham, NC, USA)
(C) Nature press release.
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