Low testosterone levels may lead to type 2 diabetes

Low testosterone levels are associated with a resistance to insulin and may be instrumental in developing type 2 diabetes, according to a research by The University of Edinburgh.

Researchers studied mice that did not have androgen receptors in fat tissue that testosterone could attach to. Those mice with impaired testosterone function were more likely to be insulin resistant than those mice with normal testosterone function.

“The study showed that insulin resistance occurred in mice when the function of testosterone was impaired regardless of body weight," said to Dr. Kerry McInnes of The University of Edinburgh endocrinology unit.

The University of Edinburgh scientists also found that mice without androgen receptors in fat tissue gained more weight than other mice. When both groups ate a high-fat diet, only the testosterone-impaired group developed full insulin resistance.

The researchers found that mice that had impaired testosterone function had higher levels of the protein RBP4. They believe that RBP4 regulates insulin resistance when testosterone is impaired.

As men age, their testosterone levels decrease. The University of Edinburgh study may help explain why older men are more at risk of developing diabetes.

Previous studies have shown that people with low testosterone levels are more likely to become obese. Obesity is a known risk factor for diabetes.

“We already know that low testosterone levels are associated with increased obesity and therefore with increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, but this study provides evidence that there can be increased risk even when body mass is not affected," said Dr. Iain Frame, director of research at Diabetes UK. “Yet while testosterone-impaired mice developed insulin resistance whatever diet they were given, they effect was considerably more pronounced on those fed on a high fat diet."

The research team believes that study’s findings could one day lead to the development of therapies that regulate the production of RBP4.

In addition to obesity, other risk factors for type 2 diabetes include older age, family history, prior history of gestational diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance, physical inactivity, and race/ethnicity.

Therapies for type 2 diabetes include healthy eating, physical inactivity, and blood glucose testing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many people with type 2 diabetes also require oral medication, insulin injections, or both.

Sources: The University of Edinburgh, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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