Maynooth University scientists have identified a protein in the body that may have the potential to prevent the development of obesity-driven diabetes.
Diabetes is one of the world’s fastest growing epidemics, with an estimated 225,000 people in Ireland alone suffering from the disease. Obesity is a key driver of Type 2 Diabetes, given that excess abdominal fat causes fat cells to release a ‘pro-inflammatory’ chemical which can make the body less sensitive to the insulin it produces and disrupt the ability of insulin-responsive cells to fulfill their function.
This is known as insulin resistance, a major trigger of Type 2 Diabetes. The Maynooth University research team, led by Paul Moynagh, Professor of Immunology, has discovered a protein in the body called ‘Pellino 3’ that may block obesity-driven inflammation and thus prevent insulin resistance and diabetes.
According to the research, there is a direct correlation between Pellino 3 levels and abdominal fat tissue levels in individuals, with Pellino 3 found to be extremely low amongst obese individuals and higher amongst lean individuals.
In the human abdominal adipose (fat) tissue of lean individuals, the amounts of Pellino 3 are high, but in adipose tissue from obese individuals the levels of Pellino 3 fall. The lower levels of Pellino 3 are associated with the production of a critically important pro-inflammatory protein called IL-1 that drives inflammation and ultimately diabetes.
Explaining the new research Professor Moynagh said: “After nearly three years of research we have identified a new regulatory mechanism for controlling diet-induced diabetes by highlighting a critical role for ‘Pellino 3’ in regulating inflammation.”
“The identification of this new role for Pellino 3 is an extremely exciting breakthrough and one that could have important implications for the fight against diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes,” Prof Moynagh continued. “My hope is that we can now build on this research and attempt to understand how we may be able to control or manipulate the Pellino 3 protein as a method of preventing diabetes disease amongst those at risk.”
Provided by Science Foundation Ireland