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High Insulin Levels Tied To Obesity Pathway: Research

Update Date: Aug 26, 2014 09:09 AM EDT

Researchers have identified a crucial link between high levels of insulin and pathways that lead to obesity, according to a new study. 

Researchers found that giving mice high levels of insulin, which is typically done to counter the effects of diabetes or insulin resistance in Type 2 diabetes, also fosters processes that lead to obesity.

Researchers concluded this by studying mice engineered to lack receptors for a hormone called glucagon. 

"We found that mice lacking the receptor for glucagon cannot get fat unless they are given the high levels of insulin found in mice (and humans) that have type 2 diabetes," said Dr. Michael Roth, Professor of Biochemistry at UT Southwestern and a member of the Touchstone Diabetes Center, said in the press release. "This result suggests that the high levels of insulin found in those who develop insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes are a contributor to obesity and its complications."

The findings could lead to important implications when treating diabetes. 

Dr. Roth further cautioned that if this response also happens in humans, then treating patients with type 2 diabetes with higher than normal amounts of insulin could contribute to the development of obesity. 

Findings of the study suggest that physicians may need to reconsider use of intensive insulin therapy to control hyperglycemia in obese, diabetic patients with hyperinsulinemia. 

According to the study, the suppressing glucagon action could prevent hyperinsulinemia, without causing diabetes. 

The study has been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 

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