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Einstein study indicates brain plays role in regulating blood sugar in humans
Date:11/7/2011

November 7, 2011 (Bronx, NY) Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have demonstrated for the first time that the brain is a key player in regulating glucose (sugar) metabolism in humans. The findings, published today in the online edition of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, suggest that drugs targeting the brain and central nervous system could be a novel approach to treating diabetes.

"The brain is the body's only organ that needs a constant supply of glucose to survive, so it makes sense that it would have some say over how much glucose is produced," said study leader Meredith Hawkins, M.D., professor of medicine and director of the Global Diabetes Initiative at Einstein. "This role for the brain was demonstrated in earlier Einstein studies in rodents, but there was considerable controversy over whether the results could be applied to humans. We hope this study helps to settle the matter."

In an earlier study in rodents, Einstein researchers showed that activation of potassium channels in the brain's hypothalamus sends signals to the liver that dampen its production of glucose. Those findings, published in Nature in 2005, challenged the conventional thinking that blood sugar production by the liver (the body's glucose factory) is regulated only by the pancreas (which makes insulin to metabolize glucose). But carefully performed studies on dogs, conducted at Vanderbilt University, failed to replicate the results, suggesting the Einstein findings in rodents might not be relevant to higher mammals, including humans.

The current Einstein study, involving people, was aimed at resolving this controversy. Ten nondiabetic subjects were gi
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Contact: Kim Newman
718-430-3101
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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