COLLEGE STATION Diabetes can be a killer, but the recent findings of four Texas A&M University researchers could lead to new ways to study and fight the dreaded disease.
Diabetics not only have high blood glucose (sugar) levels, they also have elevated fatty acid levels because they have trouble metabolizing glucose and fatty acids. In the past, scientists have studied the glucose and fatty acid aspects of diabetes separately because there was nothing linking them together.
Texas A&M researchers Heather Hostetler, Huan Huang, Ann Kier, and Friedhelm Schroeder, however, were able to link the two areas of study by identifying a single molecule in the nucleus of cells that regulates the metabolism of both glucose and fatty acids. The results of their study were recently published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
Scientists have long known that fatty acids bind with a protein called PPAR-alpha in the nucleus of cells. PPAR-alpha is a nuclear receptor, which means it is responsible for regulating the expression of specific genes. When fatty acids bind to PPAR-alpha, certain genes are turned on or off to control the metabolism of fatty acids.
Hostetler and her colleagues recently found that glucose also binds to PPAR-alpha, which presents an opportunity for scientists to study and understand one mechanism that regulates both glucose and fatty acid metabolism.
This provides a direct link for the first time between fat and sugar metabolism and shows they are intimately linked and share the same receptor in the nucleus, Schroeder said. This could be a paradigm-shifter and cause people to rethink the way they look at diabetes because we now have a central player PPAR-alpha thats impacted by both glucose and fatty acids.
Normally, a hormone called insulin signals a persons cells to take in and metabolize glucose. In diabetics, however, either not enough insulin is being produced or the persons insulin recept
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Texas A&M University