Researchers pinpoint brain mechanism linked to both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes

A Yale study has identified a brain mechanism that's key to detecting glucose in the blood, which may explain more about both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

The prolyl endopeptidase enzyme – which is located in a part of the brain called the ventromedial nucleus – controls glucose levels in the blood, explained lead study author Sabrina Diano.

The findings, she explained, could eventually lead to new treatments for diabetes.

Low levels of enzyme may cause high blood sugar

The endopeptidase enzyme is critical because it makes neurons in the brain sensitive to glucose. This sensitivity allows the brain to send signals to the pancreas to release insulin and help the body maintain healthy blood sugar levels, the researchers explained.

Diano and her team tested mice who were genetically engineered to have low levels of this enzyme, discovering that without it the mice had high glucose levels and became diabetic.

"Because of the low levels of endopeptidase, the neurons were no longer sensitive to increased glucose levels and could not control the release of insulin from the pancreas, and the mice developed diabetes," Diano said.

Further research on how the enzyme works could enable scientists to regulate insulin secretion and both prevent and treat type 2 diabetes.

The study is published in Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences.

Source: Yale
Image credit: hywards / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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