Possible cause for link between obesity and diabetes


It is a well known fact that there is a strong link between obesity and Type 2 diabetes, the condition in which the body is no longer able to manage glucose correctly. But until recently there was no explanation for this link.

A team of Singapore scientist may have found the answer: it seems that obesity does not cause Type 2 diabetes. Rather, it seems that obese people lack a certain protein used by the body to control glucose.

Scientists from the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB), part of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research in Singapore, recently published the results of their research in the scientific journal Cell Reports, under the opaque title “NUCKS Is a Positive Transcriptional Regulator of Insulin Signaling”. According to them, this is the first time a biological, even molecular link has been found between obesity and T2 Diabetes.


Let us break it down into parts, because the science is thick.

1.     There is a protein called NUCKS, and it helps regulate insulin signaling. If endocrine cells cannot produce this hormone, they cannot signal for insulin properly.

2.     The scientists bred mice that would not produce NUCKS, and those mice showed les insulin signaling, lower insulin sensitivity, and “increased body weight/fat mass along with impaired glucose tolerance.”

3.     A high fat diet made this situation worse: even fatter mice with even less tolerance to glucose and even lower insulin sensitivity.

4.     The researchers also found that the genes that direct the production of NUCKS are practically inactive (the scientific term is “downregulated”) in obese people as well as in mice raised on a high fat diet.

5.     Levels of NUCKS went up on mice raised on a high fat diet when their food intake was significantly reduced.

Dr. Vinay Tergaonkar, Principal Investigator at IMCB and leader of the study, said that: “Every year, billions of dollars are spent on metabolic diseases and a big part of the expenditure goes to the drugs for diabetes. The findings in our study have immense therapeutic implications as they will be applicable not only to diabetes in obesity, but also to diabetes as a whole."

This exciting new discovery will open the door to new research projects that will look into ways to restore NUCKS to normal levels in the body, thus reducing obesity and the risk of Type 2 Diabetes.