Blood protein helps identify diabetes years earlier than before
Preventing diabetes years in advance?
SFRP4 and insulin
Researchers at Lund University in Sweden discovered that people with higher-than-average levels of this protein are about five times more likely to develop diabetes in a few years than those with lower levels of the protein. This has enabled them to work on a test that can predict a person's degree of risk for diabetes--and that can potentially diagnose the disease several years before it is usually identified.
It appears that the protein impairs insulin secretion. Lead researcher of the study Anders Rosengren explains:
The theory has been that low-grade chronic inflammation weakens the beta cells so that they are no longer able to secrete sufficient insulin. There are no doubt multiple reasons for the weakness, but the SFRP4 protein is one of them.
Benefits of an early warning
The study looked at the insulin-producing beta cells from both diabetics and non-diabetics, revealing that people with diabetes had "significantly" higher levels of SFRP4. The study also found that 37 percent of non-diabetics--who had blood tests every three years--ended up developing diabetes when they showed higher levels of the protein in their blood.
Rosengren notes that the study has far-reaching implications for both identifying and treating diabetes. Given the findings of the research, it may be possible to develop ways of blocking SFRP4, which would protect cells and help to reduce inflammation.
If we can point to an increased risk of diabetes in a middle-aged individual of normal weight using a simple blood test, up to ten years before the disease develops, this could provide strong motivation to them to improve their lifestyle to reduce the risk.
More information about the study can be found in the November issue of Cell Metabolism.
Sources: Medical News Today, Web Pro News