Protein linked to aging may be useful for controlling diabetes

A new study identified a small protein with a big role in lowering plasma glucose and increasing insulin sensitivity. The study appeared in Diabetes, the journal of the American Diabetes Association. Sestrin 3 is a member of a small family of proteins that have long been known to suppress oxidative stress and regulate normal cellular activity, thus making it an important regulator of metabolic homeostasis.

Lead author X. Charlie Dong, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the IU School of Medicine, and colleagues monitored blood glucose levels and liver insulin sensitivity in mice with the endogenous Sestrin 3 protein and mice genetically engineered to not produce the protein.

To examine the regulatory effects of Sestrin 3, the animals were fed a diet with 18 percent of its calories from fat or a high-fat diet, with 60 percent of calories from fat. The mice without the Sestrin 3 protein had elevated fasting blood glucose levels, indicative of impaired liver insulin sensitivity or poorly regulated glucose metabolism. Both insulin and glucose tolerance tests were significantly better in the mice with the Sestrin 3 protein, leading researchers to believe that Sestrin 3 plays a critical role in hepatic insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism.

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