Researchers have identified a molecule that may help prevent cell damage caused by type 2 diabetes and obesity.
They say that a large proportion of the harmful chemical changes that occur in the body’s cells due to conditions can be avoided with a naturally occurring molecule.
In type 2 diabetes, when glucose remains in the blood it is no longer used as fuel for energy and instead toxic molecules can build up.
scientists Feather Nottingham Trent University looked at how this metabolic stress as a result of prolonged exposure to high levels of glucose and fat damages proteins in the blood and cells and prevents them from functioning properly.
While further studies are needed, this work has confirmed our hypothesis that carnosine may confer significant therapeutic potential against type 2 diabetes.
They also investigated the effects of carnosine, a molecule found in human skeletal tissue and consumed through meat and fish.
It can also be taken as a nutritional supplement.
Dr Mark Turner, a senior researcher at Nottingham Trent University’s School of Science and Technology, said: “The regulation of blood glucose is important for the human body to meet the energy requirements of vital organs.
“In patients with type 2 diabetes, certain molecules become less effective and therefore unable to do their job properly when it comes to controlling glucose in the body.
“Having identified these molecules in patient groups, we wanted to see the role of carnosine in preventing these harmful changes.
“We found that carnosine is able to protect cells that are responsible for controlling blood sugar levels.
“It increases sensitivity to glucose and results in more insulin release.
“While further studies are needed, this work confirms our hypothesis that carnosine may offer significant therapeutic potential against type 2 diabetes.”
Researchers identified proteins in blood samples from patients damaged by increased levels of glucose and fatty acids.
They also looked at the extent to which carnosine was able to prevent similar damage in cells and tissues associated with glucose control.
According to the study, carnosine prevented 65-90% of these harmful chemical changes and protected the functional properties of the affected cells.
The researchers say that even when cells were compromised, carnosine was able to preserve cellular function by adsorbing toxic molecules.
While the team previously showed carnosine’s ability to control blood sugar levels, they now understand which proteins are damaged.
King’s College London was also involved in the study, published in Free Radical Biology and Medicine.