Drugs for type 2 diabetes commonly target insulin, which lowers blood glucose levels. But the U-M study suggests that glucagon a pancreas-produced hormone that has the opposite effect of insulin by raising blood glucose levels may also provide a powerful pathway to preventing and treating the increasingly prevalent disease.
Findings of the study were published this week ahead of print in Nature Medicine.
"Reducing sugar levels is the biggest goal for people with type 2 diabetes," says senior author Liangyou Rui, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology at the U-M Medical School. "We've mostly focused on controlling insulin production and action to treat diabetes but there has been very little study on the opposite hormone glucagon.
"Our study shows for the first time that obesity also affects glucagon action and that this hormone also contributes to high glucose levels found in type 2 diabetes."