Researchers have developed a new technique for monitoring the development of insulin resistance in mice.
The study, which was conducted at the Karolinska Institutet, Swede, could shed new light on the mechanics of insulin resistance.
What is insulin resistance?
Insulin resistance occurs when the body stops responding properly to the insulin it produces. As a result, blood glucose levels run higher than they should. Insulin resistance is very closely linked to type 2 diabetes, heart disease and metabolic syndrome.
How was the study conducted?
In a previous study, the same researchers had found beta cells – which are responsible for producing insulin – are also targets for signalling of insulin resistance. However, because these cells are located in the pancreas, it’s not easy for researchers to use them to monitor insulin resistance.
However, the researchers have now found a novel solution to the problem: a combination of fluorescent lights and islet transplantation.
“The problem is that the islets are embedded in the pancreas and therefore not accessible for direct monitoring,” said lead author Meike Pasche, doctoral student at the Rolf Luft Research Centre for Diabetes and Endocrinology, Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery at the Karolinksa Institutet. “However, by equipping beta-cells with a fluorescent biosensor that reports on insulin resistance and transplanting these reporter islets into the anterior chamber of the eyes of mice, we are now able to study beta-cell insulin sensitivity over months in the living mouse.”
In other words, the researchers are using the eye as a natural body-windown, which allows them to non-invasively monitor insulin resistance in islet cells.
Professor Per-Olof Berggre, who co-led the study, said: “This technique allows monitoring of cell type specific insulin sensitivity or resistance in real-time in the context of whole body insulin resistance during progression and intervention of disease.”
The findings are published in Scientific Reports.

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