A new study developed by researchers at Texas Tech University has discovered specific neurons responsible for the development of type 2 diabetes. They are neurons located in the mediobasal hypothalamus, which regulate the levels of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs). These levels indicate a higher risk of diabetes when there is excess production.
According to a Press release, the advance could allow the development of diets or pharmacological interventions to keep BCAA levels in the blood low. The study was published in the journal Diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease that affects the way the human body processes blood sugar or glucose.
When developing this disease, the person does not generate enough insulin or is resistant to insulin, which is the hormone that allows glucose to pass into the cells and can be used efficiently by the body.
Now, the American scientists in charge of this new research have found a brain key that regulates diabetes, one of the diseases with the highest incidence in the world and that is also directly related to other diseases, such as obesity.
Neurons and amino acids
Specifically, the experts found that a group of neurons that act in the midbasal hypothalamus region have a strong influence on the regulation of branched chain amino acids or BCAAs.
These amino acids appear at a high level in the blood in people with type 2 diabetes, a fact that has been verified in different ethnic groups and ages. In this way, the excess production of BCAAs is considered by specialists as an indicator of greater risk for contracting the disease.
At the same time, it has been proven that supplements that include these amino acids, which are commonly used by athletes and athletes, can lead to insulin resistance and increased blood glucose levels, two aspects that directly lead to diabetes.
The activity of protein neurons
The main finding of the researchers is that a specific group of neurons, called protein neurons, are responsible for regulating the levels of amino acids BCAA in the blood.
Intervention in this group of neurons, which, as previously established, act in the hypothalamus area, could allow the mechanism that causes excess BCAA production to be discovered in future research.
It is worth remembering that the hypothalamus is a small region of the brain that fulfills a crucial task around the synthesis of different hormones, among other functions.
If scientists are able to describe the process that relates protein neurons to the generation of BCAA amino acids, it will be possible later to develop intervention strategies to reduce excess production, both through pharmacological tools and also through food and diet.
A promising find
According to Andrew Shin, leader of the research group, “The findings are significant because we now have a better understanding of how BCAAs are controlled in the blood and why they can be higher and participate in the increase in blood glucose in people with obesity or type 2 diabetes ”, he highlighted.
For scientists, if future research is able to determine how neurons regulate the production of these amino acids in our body, a great step will have been taken to find which part of the processes involved fails in people with diabetes type 2, thus opening the way for the development of new therapeutic alternatives.
Central Regulation of Branched-Chain Amino Acids Is Mediated by AgRP Neurons. Andrew C. Shin et al. Diabetes (2021).DOI:https://doi.org/10.2337/db20-0510
Photo: Gerd Altmann and Pixabay.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.