An appetite hormone could potentially play in an important role in the way type 2 diabetes affects the body, researchers report.
Scientists at Lund University, Sweden report that the CART (Cocaine and Amphetamine-Regulated Transcript) hormone could increase insulin secretion and decrease production of glucagon.
CART is an appetite hormone that helps to make people feel full after meals. Previous studies have investigated its role within appetite control, but Lund researchers wanted to test if CART is regulated differently in islet cells of people with type 2 diabetes.
CART expression was found to be significantly higher in islets of humans with type 2 diabetes than humans without type 2 diabetes. This was also the case when researchers studied CART expression in mouse beta cells.
Study author Nils Wierup explained: “The high glucose levels could be what triggers the production of CART.”
CART was found to increase the effect of GLP-1, an intestinal hormone that lowers blood sugar levels. GLP-1 is also the basis of a class of drugs aimed at treating type 2 diabetes which stimulate the body’s own insulin production.
“We conclude that CART is a regulator of glucose homeostasis and could play an important role in the pathophysiology of type 2 diabetes,” the researchers said.
“Based on the ability of CART to increase insulin secretion and reduce glucagon secretio, CART-based agents could be a therapeutic modality in type 2 diabetes.”
Currently, CART can only be used for research purposes, but Wierup stressed that the hormone should be studied further to learn more about it.
The researchers still do not know which receptor binds to the active molecule of the hormone, but once this is discovered it could open up new research towards the development of a type 2 diabetes drug therapy.
“Once we find the unknown receptor, we hope to explain the biological mechanisms behind CART’s function, which will hopefully lead to new and better drugs,” said Wierup. “We believe that we’re getting close.”
The study was published in Diabetologia.

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