While exercise is accepted universally as the most beneficial prescription physicians can write for patients, little is known about the molecular mechanisms that generate its widespread health benefits. Researchers from Case Western Reserve School of Medicine have shed light on this mystery by discovering that a genetic factor, Kruppel-like Factor 15 (KLF15), governs the body's ability to burn fat during exercise. Previous research from the laboratory of Mukesh Jain, MD, FAHA, identified the importance of KLF15 in the metabolism of two of the three basic nutrients used by the human body: sugar and protein. The most recent discovery of the essential role for the gene in the metabolism of the third nutrient, fat, completes the trilogy. Ultimately, research has uncovered that KLF15 drives the ability of our body's working muscles to increase their capacity to burn fat and generate force.
Although the drug metformin is considered the gold standard in the management of type 2 diabetes, a study by a group of French researchers published in this week's PLoS Medicine suggests that the long-term benefits of this drug compared with the risks are not clearly established - an important finding given that currently, thousands of people around the world are regularly taking metformin to help control their blood sugar levels in the belief that it also has long-lasting health benefits. For the past 14 years, metformin has been recommended as the first-line treatment for type 2 diabetes after a landmark study (the UK Prospective Diabetes Study) reported that when combined with dietary control measures, metformin reduced death from all causes in overweight people with type 2 diabetes.
Scientists at Joslin Diabetes Center have identified a key mechanism of action for the TOR (target of rapamycin) protein kinase, a critical regulator of cell growth which plays a major role in illness and aging. This finding not only illuminates the physiology of aging but could lead to new treatments to increase lifespan and control age-related conditions, such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, and neurodegeneration. Over the past decade, studies have shown that inhibiting TOR activity, which promotes cell growth by regulating protein synthesis, increases lifespan in a variety of species including flies and mice; in recent years research has focused on uncovering the precise mechanisms underlying this effect. The Joslin study, published in the May 2 issue of Cell Metabolism, reports that TOR has a direct impact on two master gene regulator proteins - SKN-1 and DAF-16 - which control genes that protect against environmental, metabolic and proteotoxic stress.
According to a study in the April 27 edition of Cell, Dr. Chad Grueter, a postdoctoral researcher in molecular biology and his team from the UT Southwestern Medical Center have, for the first time, demonstrated the heart's ability to regulate energy balance throughout the body. The finding may lead to more effective therapies for diabetes, heart disease and obesity, which, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention affect tens of millions of people in the U.S. The researchers discovered in a mouse model that feeding mice a high-fat diet meant they could manipulate a heart-specific genetic pathway that prevents obesity and protects against dangerous changes in blood-sugar levels in those with type 2 diabetes. Senior author of the study, Dr. Eric Olson, chairman of molecular biology at UT Southwestern declared: "Obesity, diabetes, and coronary artery disease are major causes of human death and disability, and they are all connected to metabolism.
There is a connection between phthalates found in cosmetics and plastics and the risk of developing diabetes among seniors. Even at a modest increase in circulating phthalate levels, the risk of diabetes is doubled. This conclusion is drawn by researchers at Uppsala University in a study published in the journal Diabetes Care. "Although our results need to be confirmed in more studies, they do support the hypothesis that certain environmental chemicals can contribute to the development of diabetes, " says Monica Lind, associate professor of environmental medicine at the Section for Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Uppsala University. Together with Lars Lind, professor of medicine at Uppsala University, she has analysed new information from the so-called PIVUS study, which covers more than 1 000 70-year-old women and men in Uppsala.