by: Press release & Posted by employees | email@example.com
Posted: Feb 6, 2021 / 6:15 PM CSTUpdated: February 6, 2021 / 6:15 PM CST
(Photo provided by TTU)
LUBBOCK, Texas (NEWS RELEASE) – The following is a press release from Texas Tech University:
Disease is almost never everything on your head, but new research from the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Texas Tech University suggests that a certain group of neurons in the brain may play a crucial role in the development of type 2 diabetes.
In 2014, Andrew Shin, assistant professor and director of the Laboratory of Neurobiology of Nutrition, began studying how the human body regulates branched chain amino acids (BCAAs). These essential amino acids play an important role, they produce energy from our food and form neurotransmitters that the brain needs to operate. However, recent studies have shown that having too many BCAAs in our blood can actually be bad news.
People with obesity and type 2 diabetes typically have higher levels of BCAA in their blood. In fact, their levels are consistently higher across all age groups and ethnic groups, which means that the amount of BCAAs in the blood can be used as an early indicator of type 2 diabetes risk. Additionally, BCAA supplementation, which is common in athletes, can lead to insulin resistance and abnormally high glucose levels – in short, it paves the way for the development of type 2 diabetes.
Building on previous research, Shin wanted to understand why blood BCAAs are elevated and what the underlying mechanisms are. In a new study recently published in the journal Diabetes, Shin’s lab found a specific group of neurons called agouti-related protein neurons in a specific area of the brain called the mediobasal hypothalamus, which is primarily used to control BCAA levels in the Blood is responsible.
“Our results are significant as we now better understand how BCAAs in the blood are controlled and why they may be higher and be involved in raising blood sugar in people with obesity or type 2 diabetes,” said Shin.
“We believe that if we can figure out how BCAAs are normally regulated in our bodies, we can pinpoint exactly what part of the mechanistic path has gone wrong in people with obesity or type 2 diabetes. This would ultimately help us develop dietary or pharmacological interventions to keep BCAA levels in the blood low. We hope this will help treat people who are prone to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. “
Shin warns that while this new research takes science one step closer to understanding the physiological regulation of BCAAs, it still has a long way to go.
“We would like to further describe how this is achieved,” he said, “and test whether other groups of neurons are involved, what critical neural connections are needed, etc.”
The research was supported by grants from the National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the National Institutes of Health, a grant from the Texas Tech University Systems Presidential Collaborative Research Center, and the National Research Foundation of Korea.
“Studies like this one require generous funding from government agencies and other private or nonprofit organizations because of the sophisticated techniques and knowledge required to conduct them,” Shin said. “I would like to thank everyone who made this work possible and I would like to express my sincere thanks to my employees in the US and South Korea. I hope that in addition to the ongoing collaborations, we can create new opportunities to collaborate with other experts in the field to answer this challenging but clinically meaningful question. “
(Texas Tech University press release)