Simple molecule could prevent, alleviate pre-diabetes

February 7, 2018, University of Sydney
insulin
High-resolution model of six insulin molecules assembled in a hexamer. Credit: Isaac Yonemoto/Wikipedia

Restoring levels of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ), a key molecule in energy production in cells, could overcome insulin resistance or pre-diabetes—a precursor to type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Levels of CoQ and the presence of were analysed in a range of experimental laboratory settings, mouse models and samples from humans, as part of an ambitious research collaboration conducted with the University of Sydney, Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, Duke University School of Medicine, Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Genentech Inc. and the University of New South Wales.

Concentrations of CoQ were found to be lower in insulin resistant body fat and muscle tissue. When the researchers replenished CoQ, insulin resistance or pre-diabetes was reversed.

Co-author Dr Daniel Fazakerley from the University of Sydney's School of Life and Environmental Science and Charles Perkins Centre said CoQ provides a vital role in converting nutrients like fat and sugar into usable energy.

"CoQ is found in mitochondria, the power plants in the cells of our body, where it is required for the flow of electricity to the cell's 'motor' which is responsible for ," he explained.

"Energy production can also generate reactive chemical species - often referred to as 'reactive oxygen species' or 'oxidants' - as by-products, which can be damaging to cells.

"Previous studies have shown that these oxidants can cause insulin resistance. Our study has found that lower mitochondrial CoQ enhanced oxidant formation by mitochondria.

"Importantly, by replenishing CoQ in mitochondria, either in cells or in animals, we were able to restore 'normal' mitochondrial oxidants and reverse insulin resistance."

Published in eLife today, the research provides a missing link in our understanding of how changes in our diet can trigger insulin resistance, said co-lead author Professor David James, Leonard P. Ullmann Chair of Metabolic Systems Biology at the University of Sydney's Charles Perkins Centre.

"Eating a high fat, high sugar diet has long been known to be a major risk factor for obesity and pre-diabetes and our latest work brings us one step closer to understanding how and why," Professor James explained.

Co-lead author Professor Roland Stocker from the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute and the University of New South Wales added that the findings provide direction for potential future treatments for insulin resistance and pre-diabetes.

"Replenishing CoQ could prove an invaluable preventive measure for insulin resistance- or pre-diabetes-linked diseases such as type 2 diabetes, , cancers and dementia," he said.

"However, oral CoQ supplements may not effectively restore mitochondrial CoQ due to its low absorption," Professor Stocker explained.

"This work has provided an impetus for us to find alternate means of increasing CoQ in mitochondria to treat and pre-diabetes. If not an external supplement, perhaps we can stimulate the body to form more of the coenzyme itself - or find ways to prevent levels from lowering in the first place."

Explore further: Pre-diabetes discovery marks step towards precision medicine

More information: Daniel J Fazakerley et al, Mitochondrial CoQ deficiency is a common driver of mitochondrial oxidants and insulin resistance, eLife (2018). DOI: 10.7554/eLife.32111

Related Stories

Pre-diabetes discovery marks step towards precision medicine

November 20, 2017
Researchers from the University of Sydney's Charles Perkins Centre have identified three specific molecules that accurately indicate insulin resistance, or pre-diabetes - a major predictor of metabolic syndrome, the collection ...

Saturated fatty acids lead to mitochondrial dysfunction and insulin resistance

January 20, 2012
Excessive levels of certain saturated fatty acids cause mitochondria to fragment, leading to insulin resistance in skeletal muscle, a precursor of type 2 diabetes, according to a paper in the January issue of the journal ...

An increase in low density lipoproteins favors insulin resistance

October 24, 2017
A study led by the University of Barcelona has proved that low-density proteins (VLDL) can worsen insulin resistance, a disease that favours the development of type 2 diabetes. According to the researchers, these results, ...

A link between type 2 diabetes and mitochondrial function

October 1, 2013
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that is characterized by resistance to or insufficient production of insulin, a hormone that controls sugar movement into cells. In certain tissues, insulin resistance has been associated ...

Research links fatty liver disease to type 2 diabetes

October 18, 2016
Insulin resistance in the liver is a major factor in the development of type 2 diabetes, and it is almost always associated with too much fat in the liver—a condition called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The ...

Gene could help explain insulin resistance

October 5, 2016
Health researchers have known for decades that type 2 diabetes results from a phenomenon called insulin resistance, but what causes insulin resistance has remained a mystery.

Recommended for you

Does diabetes damage brain health?

December 14, 2018
(HealthDay)—Diabetes has been tied to a number of complications such as kidney disease, but new research has found that older people with type 2 diabetes can also have more difficulties with thinking and memory.

Researchers study abnormal blood glucose levels of discharged patients

December 14, 2018
University of Minnesota Medical School researchers decided to delve into an area where little data currently exists. They wanted to know what happens after these patients with abnormal blood glucose measurements are discharged? ...

Researchers zero in on potential therapeutic target for diabetes, associated diseases

December 14, 2018
A recent study led by researchers in Texas A&M University's department of nutrition and food science shows how a novel regulatory mechanism serves as an important biomarker for the development of diabetes, as well as a potential ...

Researchers have found that incidence of heart failure was around two-fold higher in people with diabetes

December 11, 2018
Researchers have found that incidence of heart failure was around two-fold higher in people with diabetes.

Millions of low-risk people with diabetes may be testing their blood sugar too often

December 10, 2018
For people with Type 2 diabetes, the task of testing their blood sugar with a fingertip prick and a drop of blood on a special strip of paper becomes part of everyday life.

Very low calorie diets trialled by NHS to tackle diabetes

December 7, 2018
Hundreds of thousands of people will receive NHS help to battle obesity and type 2 diabetes under radical action set out by Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.