Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Single gene cause of insulin sensitivity may offer insight for treating diabetes

Date:
September 12, 2012
Source:
University of Oxford
Summary:
The first single gene cause of increased sensitivity to the hormone insulin has been discovered. The opposite condition – insulin resistance – is a common feature of type 2 diabetes, so finding this cause of insulin sensitivity could offer new opportunities for pursuing novel treatments for diabetes.

The first single gene cause of increased sensitivity to the hormone insulin has been discovered by a team of Oxford University researchers.

Related Articles


The opposite condition -- insulin resistance -- is a common feature of type 2 diabetes, so finding this cause of insulin sensitivity could offer new opportunities for pursuing novel treatments for diabetes.

Although mutations in the PTEN gene cause a rare condition with increased risk of cancer, the biological pathways the gene is involved in could offer promising targets for new drugs.

The Oxford University researchers, along with colleagues at the Babraham Institute in Cambridge, UK, and the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, UK, report their findings in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study was funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Medical Research Council, the National Institute for Health Research Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

'Insulin resistance is a major feature of type 2 diabetes,' says Dr Anna Gloyn of the Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism at the University of Oxford, who led the work. 'The insulin-producing cells in the pancreas may be working hard and pumping out lots of insulin, but the body's cells no longer respond.

'Finding a genetic cause of the opposite -- insulin sensitivity -- gives us a new window on the biological processes involved. Such understanding could be important in developing new drugs that restore insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetes.'

The PTEN gene encodes for an enzyme that is part of the insulin signalling pathway in the body. It is known to have a role in controlling the body's metabolism, and to play a part in cell growth. The Oxford team was interested in learning more about this dual role.

There is an inherited genetic condition called Cowden syndrome caused by faults in the PTEN gene. It is very rare and is thought to affect perhaps one in 200,000 people, with around 300 people with the condition in the UK. PTEN's role in cell growth sees people with Cowden syndrome develop many benign polyps in their skin, mouth and bowel, and have a higher risk than the general population of developing breast cancer, thyroid cancer and womb cancer.

'PTEN is a gene that is heavily involved in processes for both cell growth and metabolism,' says first author Dr Aparna Pal of the University of Oxford. 'Given PTEN's dual role, we were interested in understanding the metabolic profile of people with Cowden syndrome. It was possible that mutations in PTEN could improve metabolism.'

The team carried out glucose tolerance tests with 15 people with Cowden syndrome and 15 matched controls. Those with Cowden syndrome had significantly higher insulin sensitivity. In collaboration with their colleagues at the Babraham Institute, the team showed that this was caused by increased activity in the insulin signalling pathway.

The researchers also noticed that the body mass index of those with Cowden syndrome appeared greater than the controls. They carried out a comparison with a much larger control group of over 2,000 individuals from the Oxford Biobank, a data and tissue resource for research established by Professor Fredrik Karpe.

This confirmed that those with Cowden syndrome had higher levels of obesity as a group than the controls. The extra body weight appeared to be caused by extra fat, and there were no differences in where the fat was stored compared to controls.

'This was a surprise. Normally insulin sensitivity goes with being lean,' says Professor Karpe.

Dr Gloyn concludes: 'We now know that mutations that inactivate the PTEN gene result in increased cancer risk and obesity, but also increase insulin sensitivity which is very likely to protect against type 2 diabetes.

'The study shows how intimately the biological pathways governing cell growth and metabolism are linked. We need to thoroughly understand these pathways to identify which genes to target in the development of new drugs.'

She adds: 'While there are promising research avenues to pursue here, in the meantime the best way to avoid diabetes remains exercising more and eating less.'


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Oxford. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Aparna Pal, Thomas M. Barber, Martijn Van de Bunt, Simon A. Rudge, Qifeng Zhang, Katherine L. Lachlan, Nicola S. Cooper, Helen Linden, Jonathan C. Levy, Michael J.O. Wakelam, Lisa Walker, Fredrik Karpe, Anna L. Gloyn. PTENMutations as a Cause of Constitutive Insulin Sensitivity and Obesity. New England Journal of Medicine, 2012; 367 (11): 1002 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1113966

Cite This Page:

University of Oxford. "Single gene cause of insulin sensitivity may offer insight for treating diabetes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120912184512.htm>.
University of Oxford. (2012, September 12). Single gene cause of insulin sensitivity may offer insight for treating diabetes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120912184512.htm
University of Oxford. "Single gene cause of insulin sensitivity may offer insight for treating diabetes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120912184512.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) An emergency room doctor who recently returned to the city after treating Ebola patients in West Africa has tested positive for the virus. He's quarantined in a hospital. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins