Sometimes the body fails to respond to insulin normally, a condition known as insulin resistance. The result is usually the failure to properly regulate glucose levels in the body. Ultimately, this results in prediabetes or even type 2 diabetes.
But scientists may have found a way to combat insulin resistance, and it has everything to do with protein. In a study conducted on mice, it has been proven that removing and blocking a certain protein in the body helped reverse insulin resistance and glucose intolerance. The test subjects had obesity and diabetes.
The protein being targeted is produced in the immune cells, and it is called galectin-3, or Gal3. Therefore, this study strongly suggests that inhibiting Gal3 could help fight diabetes. In fact, this is not the first time Gal3 has been linked to a disease, which may help explain why it was targeted in this study.
Type 2 diabetes is caused by the body’s failure to use the insulin it produces effectively. In other words, the body grows resistant to insulin, and external intervention becomes necessary to help such individuals maintain normal glucose levels.
The immune cells responsible for the production of this protein are called macrophages. Their role in the body is to destroy targeted cells. Other studies have shown that these cells accumulate in the fatty body tissues, which means obese and overweight people have more of them.
Consequently, these people have higher amounts of this dangerous protein, which is why they suffer from type 2 diabetes at disproportionately higher rates. The researchers were able to establish that of all the cells in the fat tissue, about 40% of them are macrophages.
These cells therefore produce lots of Gal3, which inflames the body and creates insulin resistance. Unfortunately, the higher the levels of Gal3 in the body, the more macrophages the body produces, which results in a vicious cycle that makes the inflammatory and insulin resistance effects of this protein worse over time.
What’s worse was the discovery that even in cases where the protein did not cause inflammation, it still caused the body’s insulin resistance to increase. But the good news is that blocking or even suppressing the production of Gal3 resulted in improved response to insulin.
In fact, the results were so definitive that the researchers were able to discover that Gal3 attached itself directly to the insulin receptor (IR). Insulin receptor is responsible for regulating glucose levels in the body, and when impaired, the body cannot handle this process and maintain normal glucose levels in the body, resulting in diabetes.