New insulin-resistance discovery may help diabetes sufferers

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Researchers at Japan's Kanazawa University announced the identification of a hormone produced by the liver, apparently a previously unknown cause of insulin resistance. The discovery may offer new research targets in treating insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

File photo-diagram of human pancreas

Insulin resistance (IR) is a condition where the body's cells are unable to respond properly to insulin-based treatments. The pancreas continues insulin production but fails to prevent increases in glucose levels; in other words, the body becomes unable to respond to the insulin properly.

The researchers found the liver expresses higher levels of the gene encoding "selenoprotein P" (SEPP1) in people with type 2 diabetes – those with more insulin resistance.

This new connection between SEPP1 and adipokine is to be an area for further research.

The discovery may help in understanding plaques associated with Alzheimer's disease. Researchers at Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan concluded in an earlier study that insulin resistance and the development of plaques found in Alzheimer's sufferers were likely linked. The World Health Organisation estimates 37 million people worldwide live with dementia and/or Alzheimer's.