Scientists look at why lifestyle change does not work for everyone with type 2 diabetes

by Barbara Hewitt on October 16, 2018

Researchers from the UK have made what is being described as a breakthrough in the understanding of how people respond to lifestyle treatment for preventing type 2 diabetes.

The experts from the University of Stirling’s Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport, have discovered a new genomic signature in people whose type 2 diabetes status improves following a treatment intervention.

Diet and Exercise

(By Makistock/

Significantly, they say it is the first reliable signature for insulin sensitivity in human muscle and scientists believe that the findings will inform future research by helping understand why not all people are able to eliminate the risk of the condition by changing their lifestyle.

‘Our hypothesis was that, with sufficient numbers of well characterised subjects and our new analysis methods, we could reveal a robust signature for what is known as insulin resistance, an important precursor for developing type 2 diabetes,’ said Dr Iain Gallagher, of the University of Stirling’s research team.

‘Importantly, because we could also examine how the activation status of each ‘insulin resistance’ gene responded to treatment, we have also discovered a potential explanation for why not all people eliminate their type 2 diabetes risk by following a lifestyle and exercise training programme,’ he pointed out.

The team, which included a number of international partners, analysed more than 1,000 human muscle samples and five distinct treatment regimes. In doing so, they demonstrated that 16 genes are consistently switched on or off in muscle tissue but only in those people whose type 2 diabetes risk factors improved.

They explained that in such cases, the gene changes increased the individuals’ insulin sensitivity, a measure of how effectively the hormone insulin is working.

Activation of the signature is impaired in people with poor insulin sensitivity, and is dysregulated to a greater extent following various types of standard lifestyle treatment.

The signature includes more than 300 measures of gene activity, representing both protein coding and long non-coding genes. It was extensively modelled to take into account body weight and age, as well as exercise capacity.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the 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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