Researchers have discovered evidence that obese men are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than women.
Scientists at McMaster University, Canada believe this difference is related to the activity of a protein in the muscle, known as PTEN. They observed that PTEN reacts differently between men and women.
“In our study, women’s muscle appeared more efficient in neutralizing this protein, and this allows insulin to work better to move sugar from circulation to muscle,” explained lead author Dr. M. Constantine Samaan.
When it is active, PTEN prevents insulin from signalling properly in the muscle. This reduces the amount of sugar that a muscle uses, which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes due to “muscle insulin resistance”.
Obese men are significantly more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than women, as other studies have showed, but this is the first study that explains why women maintain insulin sensitivity compared to men.
“We conclude that the downregulation of muscle PTEN may explain the retention of insulin sensitivity with higher adiposity in women compared to men,” the researchers wrote.
The team will now be hoping their findings can lead to assessing how PTEN is regulated in different cells and targeting treatment to improve muscle responses to insulin.
The findings of the study were published in the journal Scientific Report.

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