Possible Protective Blood Factors Against Type 2 Diabetes
May 4, 2012

Possible Protective Blood Factors Against Type 2 Diabetes

Connie K. Ho for RedOrbit.com

Type 2 diabetes can be particularly difficult to deal with. Early symptoms, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, include fatigue, hunger, increased thirst and urination, as well as blurred vision. The best ways to prevent type 2 diabetes include keeping a healthy body weight and lifestyle. Along with lifestyle choices, new research by scientists from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University in New York has found that a particular type of protein found in the blood can help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes for ten years or more.

The project was a collaborative effort between the Nurses´ Health Study and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. The university focuses on clinical investigation, medical education, and research. Major research centers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine include studies on AIDS, cancer, diabetes, and liver disease. The findings by the university are published in an article called "The Insulin-Like Growth Factor Axis and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in Women" in the online edition of Diabetes, while the study was supported by grants from the National Institute of Health (NIH).

The report details how the proteins in the project are found to be a part of the IGF axis. The axis has an insulin-like growth factor called IGF-1, which has biological effects similar to insulin but has more of an impact on cell growth than insulin. Insulin is the hormone that controls blood glucose levels. The researchers also examined IGF binding proteins (IGFBP), which can also have strong effects apart from IGF-1.

Researchers have theorized that IGF-1 can impact the risk for developing diabetes, and the investigation by the scientists from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine is the first project to have an in-depth look at the IGF axis and how it influences diabetes development. The researchers looked at 742 women who had varying levels of IGF-1, IGFBP-1, IGFBP-2, IGFBP-3, and who later on were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. To compare the data, the scientists also examined women who did not develop diabetes.

With their study, the researchers found that women who had high levels of IGFBP-1 and IGFBP-2 had a three-fold to five-fold reduction for developing diabetes.

"Our data provide important new evidence that circulating IGF-axis proteins may have a role in the development of type 2 diabetes," commented Dr. Howard Strickler in a prepared statement.

The results of the experiment are beneficial in helping medical personnel categorize patients who are at risk for diabetes based on the IGF-axis proteins.

"We know that obesity is a major risk factor for diabetes. But some overweight individuals don't develop diabetes, while some thin people do. If our findings are confirmed, they could help doctors more precisely determine who is actually at risk for the disease,” commented Strickler in the statement.

The proteins may also be beneficial as targets in new therapies for preventing or treating diabetes; however, before those treatments takes place, there is still much research that needs to be done.

"IGF-axis proteins have other effects, some beneficial and some not," explained Strickler. "We need to learn more about the connection between the IGF-axis and diabetes before we recommend that people get tested for these substances, and before deciding how we can exploit the IGF-1 axis to help address diabetes."