Two biologists from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology and SciLifeLab in Stockholm have identified a new simple sugar as a promising indicator of type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance risks.
The study findings – published in the journal Cell Metabolism – show that mannose, a simple sugar that occurs as a component of many natural polysaccharides, could be used as a reliable biomarker for type 2 diabetes.
The research scientists believe that mannose plasma levels are indicative of type 2 diabetes risks both in lean or obese patients.
The Swedish researchers noticed that individuals with increased levels of mannose had a much greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than individuals with lower mannose levels.
The authors suggest that unlike glucose levels, mannose can predict risks more accurately as blood mannose levels are stable and not influenced by recent food intake.
The research team discovered molecular clues for this new biomarker by monitoring biological changes of type 2 diabetes-associated clinical endpoints in cell-specific integrated networks for liver, fat and muscle tissues in response to obesity and insulin resistance.
Lead author Sunjae Lee, a researcher with SciLifeLab at KTH, added: “Although the prevalence of obesity and type 2 diabetes continues to dramatically increase worldwide, a clear understanding of the underlying molecular mechanisms involved in the progression of associated disorders has still been lacking.
“So it is important to identify stable biomarkers that can be used for the early discovery of insulin resistance and future risk of T2D.”
Although larger studies are required for further clinical validation of the results, this study provides an alternative biomarker of type 2 diabetes risk that could become a potential therapeutic target for the regulation of glucose homeostasis.

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