Scientists find an early sign of type 2 diabetes

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More than one in three Americans, or approximately 88 million people, have prediabetes—which is characterized by elevated blood sugar.

If left untreated, within four years nearly 40% of people with prediabetes develop type 2 diabetes, which occurs when the body doesn’t use insulin properly.

In a study from Sanford Burnham Prebys and the University of Michigan, scientists found that misfolded proinsulin—a protein the body normally processes into insulin—is an early sign of type 2 diabetes.

The discovery could lead to tests or treatments that help prevent people from developing type 2 diabetes.

Due to increasing obesity rates, the number of people with type 2 diabetes —particularly children—is on the rise.

In the study, the scientists aimed to track proinsulin folding in the beta cells of humans and mice that are healthy, prediabetic, and diabetic.

They found that instead of undergoing its normal folding process, proinsulin proteins were abnormally linked to each other. Levels of the abnormal proinsulin accumulated as prediabetes progressed to type 2 diabetes.

Obese mice in the earliest stages of diabetes had the highest levels of abnormal proinsulin in their beta cells.

Proinsulin misfolding is the earliest known event that may contribute to the progression from prediabetes to diabetes.

Together, these findings showed that abnormally linked proinsulin holds promise as a potential measure of how close someone may be to developing type 2 diabetes.

Now, the researchers are set to uncover more details about this process, such as the proteins that interact with the misfolded proinsulin.

If you care about diabetes, please read studies about a cure for type 2 diabetes, and these vegetables could protect against kidney damage in diabetes.

For more information about diabetes, please see recent studies about unhealthy plant-based diets linked to metabolic syndrome, and why insulin is more expensive for people with diabetes.

The study was conducted by Randal Kaufman et al and published in eLife.

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