Being Overweight Increases Risk of Diabetes, And Vice Versa

Incorrect activation of insulin increases hunger, leads to weight gain

A mice study has indicated incorrect activation of insulin hormone as a cause of overweight, suggesting new therapeutic options for diabetes.

Having excess weight is a risk factor for several heath conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer. The world is witnessing an alarming rise in the number of type 2 diabetes, and majority of these patients are overweight or obese. It is a well-known fact that being overweight can have negative effects on glucose metabolism and increase the risk of metabolic diseases like diabetes. But the opposite can also happen, i.e., insufficient insulin production can make you overweight.

Compromised insulin production, which happens during the early stages of type 2 diabetes, can contribute to overweight, according to a study published in the journal Nature Communications.

The study was conducted by a research group from the University of Basel led by Dr. Daniel Zeman-Meier of the university’s Department of Biomedicine.

How having diabetes make you gain weight?

To investigate if insulin production is associated with weight gain, the research team particularly looked at protease PC1/3, an enzyme that activates various hormones, including insulin. For the unversed, insulin is needed for regulating your blood sugar and fat metabolism.

Malfunction of this enzyme can lead to severe endocrine disorders, which in turn can trigger uncontrollable hunger and severe overweight.

When the researchers turned off PC1/3 in the brains of mice, they didn’t see any significant changes in the animals’ body weight. They then shut off the enzyme in the insulin-producing beta cells of their pancreas, following which the mice calorie intake increased significantly and soon the animals became overweight and diabetic.

Based on these observations, the researchers concluded that it is not a brain malfunction (lack of activation of satiety hormones) but incorrect activation of insulin that leads to weight gain/orverweight.

Noting that PC1/3 is reduced in the pancreas of patients with prediabetes, the researchers suggested that incorrect insulin activation could be either a consequence or a cause of overweight. In addition, the study showed that sufficient PC1/3 is important to promote a healthy body weight.

Understanding that weight gain can be triggered by a defect in the insulin-producing beta cells can lead to new therapeutic options. For example, drugs that helps reduce the production of immature insulin precursors may help fight overweight and diabetes, they suggested.

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