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Liver Responsible for Molecular Culprits of Type 2 Diabetes

First Posted: Jun 23, 2014 12:50 PM EDT
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Researchers from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, have discovered the significant role molecular chemicals play in contributing to type 2 Diabetes, particularly those found in the liver.

A recent study published in the journal Cell Metabolism found that radical molecules known as Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) wage a battle with other enzymes known as protein tyrosine phosphatases to initiate cascading events with devastating consequences. More specifically, their research illustrates just how these molecular culprits contribute to the disease.

"We have shown for the very first time that these free radicals inactivate protein tyrosine phosphatases in the liver to activate rogue pathways that promote fatty liver disease and exacerbate the development of obesity and type 2 diabetes," said said Professor Tony Tiganis from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the university, in a news release

As 80 percent of patients with type 2 diabetes are obese, and 75 percent of patients who are obese or have type 2 diabetes also have fatty liver disease, the liver holds a significant role in contributing to the illness. 

The researchers' lab studies showed that obesity actually promoted ROS generation that inactivated a phosphate formerly referred to as PTPN2. This inactivation exacerbated obesity and liver disease progression.

Though researchers said that further studies will need to be completed in order to better understand the causes of fatty liver disease, Professor Tiganis said he hopes to test two potential therapeutic approaches in order to better understand the causes of the health issue: one that involves inactivation of a liver protein and the other that uses a selective anti-oxidant to 'mop-up' excess free radicals that would otherwise inactivate3 PTPN2.

Professor Tiganis, however, advises against taking antioxidants indiscriminately, noting that "although we need to undertake further studies in humans, preclinical studies indicate that ROS also play important roles in biology."

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