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G3PP enzyme protects organs and cells from damaging effects of high blood glucose levels, study finds

The enzyme glycerol 3-phosphate phosphatase (G3PP) can prevent high blood glucose levels from damaging organs and cells, according to new research.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Montreal in Canada, suggests that G3PP could be key to preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes and, in people who are already diabetic, preventing complications.
How high blood glucose levels damage our bodies
When our blood glucose levels run high, we also develop higher levels of glycerol-3 phosphate (G3P). It is this enzyme that can damage cells and tissues, most notably beta cells and major organs.
This damage can trigger complications in a variety of organs and destroy the function of beta cells.
How G3PP can protect the body from the “toxic effects” of high blood glucose levels
In this study, the researchers observed that G3PP (a significantly different enzyme to G3P, which causes the damage) can break down glycerol-3 phosphate and move it away from vulnerable cells. In theory, G3PP can protect beta cells and major organs from damage.
“When glucose is abnormally elevated in the body, glucose-derived glycerol-3 phosphate reaches excessive levels in cells, and exaggerated glycerol 3-phosphate metabolism can damage various tissues,” said Marc Prentki, professor at the University of Montreal and principal investigator in the study. “We found that G3PP is able to break down a great proportion of this excess glycerol phosphate to glycerol and divert it outside the cell, thus protecting the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas and various organs from the toxic effects of high blood glucose levels.”
Dr. Murthy Madiraju, of the University of Montreal in Canada, added: “By diverting glucose as glycerol, G3PP prevents excessive formation and storage of fat and it also lowers excessive production of glucose in liver, a major problem in diabetes.”
The research sheds an interesting light on the role of enzymes in nutrient metabolism. According to the researchers, breakthroughs of this nature are rare.
However, despite being very promising, the research is a long way from having any practical application. It is unknown how the function of G3PP can be used to protect people from the damaging effects of high blood glucose levels, and even when it is, multiple human and animal trials will be needed before such an application can be widely used.
The findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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