May 21, 2012.
Diabetes is a major risk factor for the development of heart disease and stroke and with close to 200 million people worldwide estimated to have the condition, is approaching epidemic proportions.
Whilst everyone knows that being overweight is bad for your health, fat accumulation in the liver can be especially devastating since it can lead to insulin resistance whereby there is a decrease in the ability of insulin to remove glucose from the blood and deposit it in skeletal muscle – an early stage of Type II diabetes and a major risk factor for heart disease.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL), or ‘good cholesterol’, has long been known to be protective against the development of heart disease. Recent studies from the HRI have found HDL also has anti-diabetic properties when the level is increased by treatment with drugs called CETP inhibitors.
At the recent Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology (ATVB) conference in Chicago, PhD student Shudi Tang from the Lipid Research Group presented evidence that provides clues as to how HDL improves glucose control in people with Type II diabetes.
Shudi decided to focus on the skeletal muscle as this is the major site of glucose disposal in the body, which is known to be compromised in patients with Type II diabetes. When Shudi treated human cells extracted from skeletal muscle with an active component of HDL called apolipoproteinA-I (apoA-I) they became more efficient at taking up glucose.
“These results suggest that HDL-raising therapies may improve the removal of glucose, from blood and thus be beneficial in Type II diabetes and associated pathologies,” Shudi said.
Shudi’s findings were presented in the session “Apolipoproteins: structure and function” for which she won the Australian Atherosclerosis Society (AAS) trust travel award. She hopes to see her findings in cells published this year and then extended to humans.
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