Genome signature identified which could explain how the body battles against type 2 diabetes

Jack Woodfield
Tue, 24 Jul 2018
Genome signature identified which could explain how the body battles against type 2 diabetes
A new genome signature has been identified which could reveal how lifestyle interventions work in the bodies of people at risk of type 2 diabetes.

Scottish scientists believe this is the first reliable signature for insulin sensitivity in human muscle, and could explain why some people benefit from lifestyle changes more than others.

The University of Stirling study involved analysing more than 1,000 human muscle samples and five treatment interventions (including lifestyle only and medication) for type 2 diabetes risk factors.

The researchers uncovered that 16 genes are consistently switched on or off in muscle tissue, but only in people whose type 2 diabetes risk factors improved following intervention. In those people, the gene changes were able to increase insulin sensitivity, an important marker of type 2 diabetes risk.

Among people with insulin resistance, or poor insulin sensitivity, gene activation is impaired, which could explain why some people find it more difficult to prevent type 2 diabetes from developing.

"Our hypothesis was that, with sufficient numbers of well characterised subjects and our new analysis methods, we could reveal a robust signature for what is known as 'insulin resistance' - an important precursor for developing type 2 diabetes," said study author Dr Iain J Gallagher.

"Importantly, because we could also examine how the activation status of each 'insulin resistance' gene responded to treatment, we have also discovered a potential explanation for why not all people eliminate their type 2 diabetes risk by following a lifestyle and exercise training programme."

The signature identified involved more than 300 measures of gene activity. The model used took into account body weight and age as well as exercise capacity.

The study builds upon the 'one diet doesn't fit all' premise, which charity Diabetes UK emphasised in their new nutrition guidelines earlier this year. In short, the guidelines say that nutritional interventions will work for some better than others, and this study further illustrates how and perhaps why some lifestyle or medication treatments may not work as well for some.

Now, the University of Sterling researchers hope to use their discovery to further understand the biomarkers of metabolic disease.

The results have been published online in the journal Nucleic Acids Research.

Editor's note: People at risk of type 2 diabetes are able to prevent the condition from developing by eating a healthy, real food diet. For many, this is the preference compared with going onto medication, and following the principles of our award-winning Low Carb Program can help improve insulin sensitivity, lower HbA1c and also aid weight loss.
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