Obesity increases the chance of a sugar metabolism imbalance and potentially diabetes. A study group at the University of Basel has recently demonstrated that the contrary is also true: inadequacies in the body’s insulin production contribute to obesity.
Poor nutrition, too little movement and too many pounds on the scale — lifestyle influences the risk of metabolic diseases like diabetes. But the relationship works the other way round as well, as a research group led by Dr. Daniel Zeman-Meier of the university’s Department of Biomedicine and the University Hospital of Basel reports. If insulin production is compromised, as is the case in the early stages of type 2 diabetes, this can contribute to overweight. The findings of the study were published in the journal Nature Communications.
When hormone activation goes awry
The research team focused on protease PC1/3, a key enzyme in the body that transforms various inactive hormone precursors into the final, active forms. If this enzyme isn’t functioning properly in a person, the result can be severe endocrine disorders. The consequences include a feeling of uncontrollable hunger and severe overweight.
“Until now, it was assumed that this dysregulation is caused by a lack of activation of satiety hormones,” explains the study’s leader, Dr. Zeman-Meier. “But when we turned off PC1/3 in the brains of mice, the animals’ body weight did not change significantly.” The researchers concluded from this that something other than a brain malfunction must be responsible.
- An important mechanism in humans.