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New alterations found in young adults with type 2 diabetes

Diabetologia in 2009, Zorzano's group demonstrated that morbidly obese diabetic subjects with a body mass index over 40 also suffer from specific mitochondrial alterations that are differentiated from classical diabetes patients.

Anomalies in mitochondria

A group of young obese adults with diabetes and another group of young obese adults without this disease followed an exercise plan four times a week for three months. The muscle biopsies of the two groups showed considerable differences in a series of mitochondrial activity proteins. "After these sessions a sedentary person shows an increase in mitochondrial proteins because the exercise increases mitochondrial biogenesis, that is to say, more mitochondria are produced". It has been demonstrated that both diet and continuous exercise stimulate greater mitochondrial activity, which in turn has a positive effect on sensitivity to insulin. In contrast, in young obese diabetic subjects some key proteins do not increase, such as the mitochondrial gene regulatory factor PGC-1α, and the protein Mitofusin-2.

"These results imply that we must classify patients with diabetes type 2, identify the differences between the distinct phenotypes and consider specific treatments", concludes Zorzano. The group of researchers at Trinity College and IRB Barcelona plan to perform a clinical study to detect more mitochondrial factors that are affected in these patients. One of the final objectives of the group is to achieve the capacity to manipulate some to the deteriorated components of young obese diabetic subjects so that they can also respond to the beneficial effects of exercise.


Contact: Snia Armengou
Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)

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