[PRESS RELEASE, 13 May 200] Scientists at the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet have in two recent studies shown that a receptor called ALK7 plays important roles in the regulation of body fat deposition as well as the release of insulin from beta-cells in the pancreas. These findings have implications for the development of treatments against diabetes and obesity.
We have shown in animal studies that removing the ALK7 receptor improves insulin release by beta-cells in the pancreas, and at the same time decreases fat deposition in situations of high caloric intake, says Professor Carlos Ibez, who lead the two studies that are now published as back-to-back papers in the PNAS. The well-known connections between diabetes and obesity make our combined findings quite exciting.
Up to 6 per cent of the world population is estimated to suffer from some form of diabetes, either due to a reduced ability to produce insulin, or to insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone required by cells in the body to absorb glucose from the blood, thereby providing them with energy. Obesity has been shown to increase the risk of developing diabetes, and as overweight becomes more prevalent in the human population, so do the cases of diabetes.
The research group led by Carlos Ibez studies how signaling by growth factors and their receptors regulate different physiological functions in the body. They have recently investigated the functions of one of these receptors, called ALK7, using mutant mice (knock-out mice) lacking this receptor. They found that in the absence of ALK7, mice developed abnormally high levels of insulin in the blood, which with age led to insulin resistance and liver steatosis, a pathological condition in which the liver enlarges and accumulates abnormally high levels of fat.
In collaboration with another research group at Karolinska Institutet, led by Professor Per-Olof Berggren, they also found that Calcium sig
|Contact: Katarina Sternudd|