Researchers identify potential type 2 diabetes treatment that may improve insulin sensitivity, fatty liver disease

In order to create more effective type 2 diabetes treatments, researchers must sometimes delve deeper into genetics to understand whether it is possible for diabetes medications to alter inherited traits that contribute to the development of the disease.

During these types of investigations, scientists may even come across a new discovery that may indicate a method of treating diabetic symptoms or complications.

This is what happened in the course of a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. Researchers examined two breeds of laboratory rodents - one that was known to be susceptible to obesity and type 2 diabetes, and another that had a natural protective mechanism against these conditions.

They identified an enzyme called PKC-delta as an important molecular modifier for development of insulin resistance, diabetes and fatty liver disease - a disease commonly associated with diabetes, which may result in liver failure. According to the results, removing this gene from the susceptible mice resulted in improved insulin sensitivity, whereas adding one copy to the protected rodents caused them to become more insulin resistant.

The scientists said that their findings may indicate a new method of using diabetes treatments to block certain enzymes that are produced by the PKC-delta gene to help reduce insulin sensitivity and potentially thwart the development of fatty liver disease.

According to the Mayo Clinic, some individuals who have type 2 diabetes develop nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, a form of the condition that is not related to excess alcohol consumption. This occurs when fat accumulates in the organ and causes inflammation and scarring.

Although not all people who have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease experience symptoms, some of these include fatigue, pain in the upper right abdomen and weight loss, the organization explained. Individuals with type 2 diabetes who are concerned that they may have this type of illness should speak to their physicians, who can refer them to a specialist called a hepatologist.