New hormone may lower blood sugar

Scientists discovered a new hormone from fat stem cells that sends glucose out of the bloodstream and into muscle, according to research published in Cell Metabolism.

The hormone holds therapeutic potential as a possible treatment to lower blood sugar and improve metabolism among people living with diabetes.

About 25.8 million Americans, or 8.3 percent of the US population, have diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that by 2050 one in three adults will have diabetes if current trends continue.

Researcher Jonathan Graff of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center lead a team of scientists studying the fat stem cells of mice.

They manipulated a key developmental pathway in the fat stem cells of mice and found that those mice had very low blood sugar levels. However, these animals lacked fat stores. Called lipodystrophy, this usually results in high blood sugar and diabetes.

They discovered that an abundance of glucose transporters at the mouse muscle surfaces allow the animals to take up glucose at two to four times the usual rate.

The researchers found that the manipulated fat stem cells caused the mouse muscles to take up extra sugar. Experiments ruled out insulin, blood borne signals, and the muscles themselves as possible causes.

The researchers also experimented with manipulating mature fat cells and found that they lacked the same effect on blood sugar and mouse muscle as manipulated fat stem cells.

“If we can purify this factor and give it to people, there is potential for its use to lower and help control blood sugar,” Graff said.

Type 2 diabetes accounts for about 95 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. According to CDC, it usually begins as insulin resistance in which the cells do not use insulin properly. As the body demands more insulin, the pancreas gradually loses its ability to produce it.

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include advanced age, obesity, family history of diabetes, history of gestational diabetes, impaired glucose metabolism, physical inactivity and race/ethnicity.

Sources: Cell Press, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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