Protein Found Key to Insulin Secretion

LA JOLLA, Calif., June 10 (UPI) — U.S. scientists say they have found a specific protein that is key to insulin secretion may play an important role in the onset of type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

The researchers, led by La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology scientist Catherine Hedrick, said they discovered the ABCG1 protein is essential for the beta cells of the pancreas to produce sufficient amounts of insulin.

“Based on our studies in mice, we think some diabetes patients may have reduced expression of ABCG1, which impairs their insulin secretion,” said Hedrick, who previously published findings showing type 2 diabetics have lower levels of ABCG1 than non-diabetics.

The researchers said they also determined proper expression of the protein in beta cells could be restored in the mice by treatment with some existing anti-diabetic drugs.

“Our study suggests that certain existing anti-diabetic drugs may also provide therapeutic benefit related to restoring normal levels of ABCG1 protein in beta cells and improving insulin secretion in people with type 2 diabetes,” Hedrick said. “Our research points to the need to investigate this possibility further, as well as to explore the potential development of new therapies that boost ABCG1 protein levels and insulin secretion.”

The study that included Jeff Sturek of the University of Virginia appears in the early online edition of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

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