A gene responsible for converting glucose into fatty acids appears to be a key factor in how the body regulates blood sugar.
Researchers from Harvard University studied mice with genetic differences. The gene involved in the research is ChREBP, which stands for carbohydrate-responsive-element-binding protein-beta. The gene has been linked with increased insulin sensitivity in previous studies. ChREBP helps by turning glucose from the blood into fatty acids, which helps reduce blood glucose levels whilst facilitating body fat to be stored.
The research, published in the journal Nature, showed that mice which had higher levels of ChREBP were able to keep blood glucose levels normal despite being obese. Mice which lacked the transporter gene, however, developed the symptoms of diabetes, including high blood glucose levels.
The study could help to explain why some overweight people develop type 2 diabetes but others don’t. Lead Researcher Dr Mark Herma, from Harvard Medical School, states: “Obesity is commonly associated with metabolic dysfunction that puts people at higher risk for diabetes, stroke and heart disease, but there is a large percentage of obese people who are metabolically healthy. We started with a mouse model that disassociates obesity from its adverse effects.”

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