The gene mediates insulin secretion indirectly via the release of melatonin, which implicates a previously unknown relationship between the sleep-wake rhythm and the fasting glucose level. The finding could open up new possibilities of treatment which go far beyond the primarily symptomatic therapy approaches to diabetes that have been practised until now.
Diabetes mellitus and diabetes-associated late complications are among the most frequent chronic diseases and causes of death worldwide. In Germany there are approximately six million people with type 2 diabetes who are aware that they have the disease. In addition, there is a relatively high estimated number of undiagnosed diabetics. Besides lifestyle factors such as overweight and lack of exercise, genetic factors play an important role in the pathogenesis of this disease.
The international MAGIC Consortium (MAGIC = Meta-Analyses of Glucose and Insulin-related traits Consortium) combined the data from 13 case-control studies with over 18,000 diabetic and 64,000 non-diabetic study participants and was able to identify a variant of the MTNR1B gene which is associated with both elevated fasting glucose levels as well an elevated risk for type 2 diabetes. The goal of the MAGIC Consortium is to identify gene variants which regulate the fasting glucose levels in healthy individuals.
The study results were published in the January issue of Nature Genetics.
Germany is represented within the framework of the KORA studies by scientists of the Helmholtz Zentrum Mnchen (Assistant Professor Thomas Illig; Director of the KORA studies: Professor H.-Erich Wichmann) and the German Diabetes Center in Dsseldorf (Dr. Wolfgang Rathmann, Dr. Christian Herder; Direktor: Professor Michael Roden).
The MTNR1B gene is expressed in insulin-producing islet cells, among other cells, and encodes one of the two known melatonin receptors. It is assumed that this receptor inhibits the release o
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Helmholtz Zentrum Mnchen - German Research Center for Environmental Health