Insulin resistance

Swedish scientists have discovered a mechanism of insulin resistance that could result in alternative treatment strategies for type 2 diabetes.

Insulin resistance occurs when the body becomes less sensitive to insulin, and is a key factor in the development of type 2 diabetes.

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet investigated how insulin-producing beta cells can be insulin sensitive and insulin resistant simultaneously. In a previous study, they showed that these cells have two receptors: insulin receptor A and insulin receptor B, which have different biological functions.

In their new study involving diabetic mice models, they observed that insulin receptor B is insulin insensitive for one signalling pathway. However, insulin can instead activate a different pathway, which results in increased beta cell production.

The reason behind this switch was PI3K-C2a, a protein. Insulin resistant pancreatic beta cells had reduced PI3K-C2a levels, which led to the rerouting of the insulin signal and proliferation of beta cells.

Ingo Leibiger, PhD, Karolinska Institutet, said: “The results are important since it explains how the beta cell can go from a differentiated state to a proliferative state. This means that the cells change from being glucose-responsive to instead increase in number.”

The research authors added that by identifying the factors involved in the re-routing of insulin, alternative therapeutic treatments can be targeted for type 2 diabetes.

The findings of this study appear in the journal Cell Reports.