New Research Finds Increased Risk for Diabetes

by Mark Benson on February 2, 2012

Melatonin affects insulin sensitivity

Scientists from Lille and Paris have found that mutations in the melatonin receptor gene had increased the risk of developing diabetes seven times more than in regular individuals. Melatonin is called the “hormone of darkness” that induces sleep in individuals. This latest research could contribute to the development of new drugs that can prevent and treat this metabolic condition.

The research would be published in Nature Genetics on January 29, 2012.

This condition presents itself with high blood glucose levels and the resistance in the absorption of the hormone insulin. This disease affects nearly three hundred million individuals in the world, with three million currently in France. It is projected that these French diabetics would double in the next few years and this can be attributed to the increasing incidence of obesity and lack of ancestral lifestyles. Other factors include genetics together with a lack of exercise with a high fat high sugar diet.

Other possibilities include sleeping disorders, as the lack of quality sleep can contribute to the onset of this condition. Most of those affected are shifted workers because of the lack of sleep and poor dietary considerations develop the disease. No previous study has covered the link between diabetes and the biological clock.

The focus of the study’s attention is the receptor of the melatonin hormone. This hormone is produced by the pineal gland when light fades as an assist to sleep inducement. Also called the hormone of darkness, melatonin can be attributed as the biological timekeeper that synchronizes biological rhythms when night comes.

What the team did was sequence the MT2 gene, encoded in the receptor of the hormone in the 7600 participants in the study. All the participants were either diabetics or those with normal glycemic levels. They observed forty mutations that modified the protein structure of the receptor. Of the forty, fourteen made the receptor non-functional. This was the onus that demonstrated the development of the risk of diabetes in nearly seven times greater when these individuals suffered from the mutations. These individuals make them melatonin-insensitive.

This research can help in the development of drugs that prevent or treat diabetes. The research would be able to adjust MT2 receptors to control the metabolic pathways associated with the disease. Because of the many causes for the disease predisposed in genes, genome sequencing can tailor fit the treatment for the severity of the individual’s disease.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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