Researchers identify new therapeutic target for high blood sugar control

21 March 2014

In what is being considered a significant breakthrough, Indian-origin scientists have identified a potential new therapeutic target for controlling high blood sugar - a finding that could help millions suffering from type 2 diabetes worldwide,  PTI reported.

The researchers showed that lipid molecules called phosphatidic acids enhanced the production of glucose in the liver.

The findings suggested that inhibition or cutting the production of phosphatidic acids might do the opposite.

The report quoted Dr Anil Agarwal, senior author of the study, from the University of Texas as saying, the study established a role for phosphatidic acids in enhancing glucose production by the liver and identification of enzymes involved in the synthesis of phosphatidic acids as potential drug targets.

These observations were made during the study of a mouse model of lipodystrophy, a rare metabolic disease in which the body was devoid of fat.

Lipodystrophy patients often developed diabetes and accumulated fat in the liver due to an imbalance in the ability of the body to properly regulate lipids and glucose.

The causal gene, AGPAT2, which played a role in the synthesis of phosphatidic acid and triglycerides, was removed in the mice, resulting in rodents with generalised lipodystrophy.

The research team then examined the impact of the genetic manipulation on phosphatidic acids and glucose production.

The buildup of these lipid molecules was caused by the increase in the levels of two enzymes in the liver, diacylglycerol kinase and phospholipase D. A marked increase in glucose production in the livers of the lipodystrophic mice was also found.

According to Dr Agarwal, the lack of normal insulin signaling in these lipodystrophic mice led to unrestricted production of phosphatidic acid, which contributed to development of hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar.

The Journal of Biological Chemistry has published the study.

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