Muscling in on type 2 diabetes

February 26, 2009

Research by kinesiology investigator Dustin Hittel, PhD, has proven that muscle in extremely obese individuals produces large amounts of a protein called myostatin, which normally inhibits muscle growth--suggesting that for Type 2 diabetics, and the very obese, the task of getting healthy may be more difficult than initially thought.

It has been known for some years that naturally occurring mutations in the gene which controls myostatin results in double—muscling in cattle, dogs and even humans. Many in the body building community believe that blocking myostatin is a shortcut to the Arnold Schwarzenegger body.

The flipside is that producing too much myostatin has been linked with muscle wasting conditions such as HIV-AIDS, starvation and now, Type 2 diabetes.

Hittel believes this may be due to a pre-diabetic condition known as insulin resistance that "tricks" the muscles into thinking the body is starving despite the fact that blood sugar levels are skyrocketing.

"When that happens, the body reverses muscle production using myostatin," says Hittel. "This is particularly worrisome because losing muscle mass further erodes your ability to control your blood sugar with exercise."

One of the tell-tale signs of the transition between insulin resistance and full-blown Type 2 diabetes is a loss of muscle mass.

"Losing muscle mass makes sense from an evolutionary perspective since having large muscles during famine puts you at a serious risk for starvation," explains Hittel. "Unfortunately, this survival mechanism has left us ill-equipped to deal with a Western lifestyle—lots of calories, little exercise—and it has laid the groundwork for the current epidemic of Type 2 diabetes."

"The goal of my research is to understand how obesity, diet and exercise influence our metabolism and interact with our genome. This research sheds some light on an important part of the puzzle."

More information: This article can be found in the January 2009 edition of the scientific journal Diabetes. (diabetes.diabetesjournals.org.)

Source: University of Calgary

Explore further: Scientist planning to send microscopic worms into space for muscle development study

Related Stories

Mimicking the body on a chip for new drug testing

June 10, 2015

Scientists in an EU project have developed a microfluidic chip that simultaneously analyses the reactions of several human organ tissues when they come into contact with candidates for new drugs. The ground-breaking device ...

More cycling with e-bikes

May 20, 2015

According to a new study, electric bikes make people cycle longer and more often. The effect is best on women.

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

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.