Scientists Discover Link Between Biological Clock And Diabetes

Researchers have recently found that a type of protein that regulates the biological clock in mammals also regulates the glucose production in the liver. By altering the levels of this protein, scientists can improve the health in diabetic mice. The report is published on the advanced online publication of the journal Nature Medicine.

Biologists from the University of California San Diego may have discovered a new biochemical approach to develop treatments for obesity as well as type 2 diabetes. It may also provide a possible link between the rise of diabetes cases in the US and disturbed sleep-wake cycles as experienced by more and more people in major industrialized countries adapting to an increasingly round-the-clock lifestyles.

“We know that mice that don’t have good biological clocks tend to develop diabetes and obesity,” said Steve Kay, Dean of the Division of Biological Sciences at UC San Diego and one of the lead authors of the research study.

“And we know that mice that have developed diabetes and obesity tend not to have very good biological clocks. This reciprocal relationship between circadian rhythm and the maintenance of a constant supply of glucose in the body had been known for some time. But what we found that’s so significant is that a particular biological clock protein, cryptochrome, is actually regulating how the hormone that regulates glucose production in the liver works in a very specific way,” Kay further added.

The protein cryptochrome was initially discovered by scientists to be a key protein that regulates the biological clocks in plants. It was later found out to also have a similar function in fruit flies and mammals. It was only through the UCSD study that the researchers found out that it also has a role in regulating glucose production in the liver.

The researchers discovered that cryptochrome process known as gluconeogenesis, which provides the body with a constant supply of glucose to keep the brain and the rest of the organs and cells functioning. Regulating cryptochrome levels may also have an effect on mice with diabetes. “Our experiments show very nicely that modulating cryptochrome levels in the liver of mice can actually give diabetic animals a benefit,” Kay added.

In the said study, which was in collaboration with researchers from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies as well as scientists from the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation in San Diego, the University of Memphis and the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shanghai.

Source: University of California — San Diego. “Biologists Discover Biochemical Link Between Biological Clock and Diabetes.” ScienceDaily 20 September 2010. 1 October 2010 <http://www.sciencedaily.comĀ­ /releases/2010/09/100919131856.htm>


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