Muscling in on type 2 diabetes

Feb 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: Study shows Tamiflu gets patients back on their feet faster, reduces flu complications

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The epigenetic switchboard

Jan 12, 2015

Epigenetic signals help determine which genes are activated at which time in a given cell. A novel analytical method enables systematic characterization of the relevant epigenetic tags, and reveals that the ...

Recommended for you

Second bird flu case confirmed in Canada

30 minutes ago

The husband of a Canadian who was diagnosed earlier this week with bird flu after returning from a trip to China has also tested positive for the virus, health officials said Friday.

What exactly is coronavirus?

7 hours ago

The conflicts in Syria and Iraq are straining public health systems and public health efforts meant to prevent and detect the spread of infectious diseases. This is generating a "perfect storm" of conditions for outbreaks. Among the infections raising concern is Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, caused by a type of coronavirus, which emerged in 2012. ...

Scientists find Ebola virus is mutating

7 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Researchers working at Institut Pasteur in France have found that the Ebola virus is mutating "a lot" causing concern in the African countries where the virus has killed over eight thous ...

User comments : 0

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.