Insulin resistance reversed by removal of protein

By removing the protein galectin-3 (Gal3), a team of investigators led by University of California School of Medicine researchers were able to reverse diabetic insulin resistance and glucose intolerance in mouse models of obesity and diabetes.

By binding to insulin receptors on , Gal3 prevents insulin from attaching to the receptors resulting in cellular . The team led by Jerrold Olefsky, MD, professor of medicine in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism at UC San Diego School of Medicine, showed that by genetically removing Gal3 or using pharmaceutical inhibitors to target it, and glucose tolerance could be returned to normal, even among older mice. However, obesity remained unchanged.

"This study puts Gal3 on the map for insulin resistance and diabetes in mouse model," said Olefsky, associate dean for scientific affairs and senior author of the study. "Our findings suggest that Gal3 inhibition in people could be an effective anti-diabetic approach."

Olefsky and other researchers have been studying how chronic tissue inflammation leads to insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes. In the paper, published in the journal Cell on November 3, researchers explain that inflammation requires macrophages—specialized cells that destroy targeted cells. In obese adipose tissue (fat), for example, 40 percent of cells are macrophages. Macrophages in turn secrete Gal3, which then acts as a signaling protein attracting more macrophages, thus resulting in the production of even more Gal3.

Furthermore, investigators identified bone marrow-derived macrophages as the source of Gal3 that leads to insulin resistance. More importantly, researchers found that Gal3 is secreted by macrophages, and can then cause insulin resistance in liver, , and muscle cells independent of inflammation.

Gal3 has previously been connected to other diseases. Olefsky will continue to study Gal3 depletion as a possible therapeutic target for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis as well as heart and liver fibrosis.


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More information: Pingping Li et al. Hematopoietic-Derived Galectin-3 Causes Cellular and Systemic Insulin Resistance, Cell (2016). DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.10.025
Journal information: Cell

Citation: Insulin resistance reversed by removal of protein (2016, November 3) retrieved 21 August 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-11-insulin-resistance-reversed-protein.html
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Nov 04, 2016
"Researchers demonstrate how modified citrus pectin works against cancer" "Natural Galectin-3 Blocker" "By binding to galectin-3, MCP inactivates the protein"

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