MAR 27, 2016 09:39 AM PDT

MicroRNA Point to New Targets For Diabetes Treatment

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham
Image credit: Pixabay.com


Since their discovery in the early 1990s and 2000s, micro-RNAs (miRNAs) have been implicated in a variety of human conditions. Most recently, researchers added yet another role of miRNAs in human health, this time in the regulation of weight and fat storage. As it turns out, a micro-RNA known as miR-181b is involved in influencing the risks for obesity and diabetes.    
 
Micro-RNAs are simple short nucleotide sequences, usually 21-23 bases long, that act to silence gene expression. There are currently hundreds of known miRNAs, and most exist in unique locations inside the human body.

For the study, researchers at the Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) investigated whether specific miRNAs reside in adipose tissues, and whether these structures affect insulin resistance leading to obesity. To answer these questions, the team studied obese mice and found lower expression of miR-181b in adipose tissue endothelial cells.
 
They next wondered whether rescuing the expression of miR-181b to normal levels would improve insulin resistance. Indeed, when they administered a synthesized mimic of miR-181b to the obese mice, the researchers observed an improvement in glucose homeostasis and insulin sensitivity. Furthermore, inflammatory responses in fat tissues were also markedly improved when miR-181b levels were rescued.
 
Then using bioinformatics and gene profiling approaches, the team identified the target of miR-181b: a protein phosphatase enzyme called PHLPP2. In mice missing PHLPP2, researchers found the same biological effects as increasing miR-181b levels. These included improvement in glucose homeostasis and insulin sensitivity. PHLPP2 levels were also found at higher levels in endothelial cells from diabetic patients versus healthy controls.
 
The results demonstrate a direct involvement of this micro-RNA in the regulation of fat tissues during obesity. Moreover, it suggests that PHLPP2 could be a potential new target for treating related conditions in humans. "The beneficial role of this microRNA in obesity is likely the tip of the iceberg since excessive inflammation is a pervasive finding in a wide-range of chronic inflammatory diseases,” said Mark W. Feinberg, associate physician at BWH and senior study author.

Additional source: Brigham and Women's Hospital via EurekAlert!

About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
OCT 19, 2019
Cardiology
OCT 19, 2019
How Is Cardiovascular Rehabilitation Failing Woman
For woman across North America, cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains a leading cause of death. Evidence strongly suggests that CVD risk factors such as poo...
OCT 19, 2019
Health & Medicine
OCT 19, 2019
Use of Functional Inhibitors of Acid Sphingomyelinase (FIASMA) to Treat Intracelluar Bacterial Infections
Researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University presented the findings of their study published in Life Science Alliance that certain a...
OCT 19, 2019
Health & Medicine
OCT 19, 2019
Increasing Incidence of Tick-Borne Illnesses in Pennsylvania
Babesiosis is a vector-borne disease in which the parasite, Babesia, is transmitted through the bite of a tick, or rarely, a blood transfusion.  ...
OCT 19, 2019
Clinical & Molecular DX
OCT 19, 2019
Brush Your Teeth for a Better Memory
What is good oral hygiene??? What will happen if you do not follow this important healthcare ritual? You are right.......DENTAL CAVITIES and GUM DISEASES.&...
OCT 19, 2019
Immunology
OCT 19, 2019
Diseases We Share with Our Canine Companions: Autoimmune Encephalitis in Dogs
Like humans, dogs can develop autoimmune encephalitis, and it’s common - mostly affecting smaller breeds and young adult dogs. Now scientists underst...
OCT 19, 2019
Health & Medicine
OCT 19, 2019
Are Washing Machines a Reservoir for Multidrug Resistant Pathogens?
Multidrug-resistant bacteria are frequently found in hospitals and long-term nursing facilities causing one of the largest public health concerns worldwide...
Loading Comments...