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Hormone Lowers Glucose Levels in Mice

Injections of apelin appear to be similar to insulin, study says

TUESDAY, Nov. 4 (HealthDay News) -- A hormone produced by fat tissues holds promise for people with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes, a new report suggests.

The hormone, called apelin, significantly lowered blood sugar levels when injected intravenously into normal and obese mice, according to a study published in the November issue of the journal Cell Metabolism. Apelin also appeared to restore glucose tolerance and improve glucose uptake in mice that are obese and insulin resistant.

According to the finding, apelin seems to stimulate muscle and fat tissue so it better absorbs glucose from the bloodstream. It does this by activating a pathway for AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), an enzyme that's key to control of skeletal muscle glucose and the metabolism of fatty acids, the researchers said.

"The present study reveals apelin as a new endocrine regulator of AMPK and strengthens the crosstalk between [fat] and skeletal muscle," the researchers wrote. "The involvement of AMPK in apelin-mediated glucose uptake represents an attractive pathway that could conceivably lead to a new drug target for the treatment of metabolic disorders."

Researcher Isabelle Castan-Laurell of the Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale and the Universite de Toulouse, noted in a news release issued by the journal's publisher that previous studies have found similarities and parallels between the effects of apelin and insulin.

The effects of long-term apelin treatment in mice will be examined next to see if it can prevent obesity and insulin resistance, the researchers said.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about diabetes.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: Cell Press, news release, Nov. 4, 2008

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