A human gene variant could be linked to insulin resistance, according to new research.
The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation suggests that a specific variant of the gene N-acetyltransferase 2 (NAT2) is associated with a number of risk factors for type 2 diabetes and heart disease, including insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance is a significant risk factor in the development of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. In many cases, insulin resistance is caused by obesity, but recent studies suggest that insulin resistance can be inherited.
The researchers analysed the gene variations of 5,000 participants, and found that those with lower levels of NAT2 were more likely to have insulin resistance and heart disease.
The researchers then impaired NAT2 levels in mice, which negatively affected their insulin sensitivity.
The results strongly suggest that mutations in the NAT2 gene cause the development of insulin resistance. People with insulin resistance are significantly more likely to go on to develop type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Joshua Knowles, assistant professor of medicine and lead author of the paper, said: “This is another step to reiterate to the community that insulin resistance is a major problem that has a real, distinct genetic basis.
“Our goal was to try to get a better understanding of the foundation of insulin resistance. Ultimately, we hope this effort will lead to new drugs, new therapies and new diagnostic tests.
“It’s still early days. We’re just scratching the surface with the handful of variants that are related to insulin resistance that have been found.”

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