A new study by the University of Maryland School Of Medicine found that inflammation may have a larger role in Diabetes than once thought. News-Medicalreports that inflammation may impact the body’s ability to metabolize glucose, increasing insulin resistance. The study was originally published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
With 1.4 million Americans diagnosed with Diabetes every year, it currently affects about 30 million. According to News-Medical it’s the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. The findings from this study may help doctors with the prevention and treatment of the disease.
“Until now, we didn’t really understand how insulin resistance occurred,” Xiao-Jian Sun, an assistant professor in the Department of Medicine, said in a statement. “Our study has done something new: it has identified a new molecule involved in the development of insulin resistance.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 328,200 Medical and Clinical Laboratory technicians working in the U.S. as of 2014. And many of these researchers began to notice that people with Diabetes also had chronic inflammation. Obesity, excess sugar consumption, and age all contribute to inflammation, as well as Diabetes. This study made a more direct connection.
Sun and his colleagues found that inflammation activates the IRAK1 (Interleukin-1 receptor-associated kinase 1) gene, and that this enzyme actually blocks insulin. And as a result, it prevents the body from metabolizing glucose. The study specifically involved a group of mice that were genetically modified to not have IRAK1. These mice also had higher insulin resistance, according to News-Medical.
This is not the first study that has linked Diabetes and inflammation, but it does put clear evidence behind the connection.
“What we suspect is that high IRAK1 activity is bad in humans,” Dr. Sun said in a statement to News-Medical. “It increases insulin resistance, particularly in muscle. This gives us insight into how to improve insulin resistance in patients with diabetes.”
According to News-Medical, Dr. Sun said that he hopes that medical professionals will be able to test which type of IRAK1 patients have. This is important because some patients have a more present version of the gene than others. If a patient knows how active their gene is, they may be able to increase preventative measures, such as weight loss and lifestyle changes. He also said that he hopes researchers can develop a drug that can prevent IRAK1 activity in the body.