Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University

IKBFU Researchers Find Out Why Obese Patients Are at Risk of Having Diabetes

22 January 2019

A team of researchers from the Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University carried out a study to find out the role of receptor proteins of several intestine enzymes in the development of diabetes in obese patients. The study provided valuable insight into the connection between obesity and diabetes and the ways of its prevention. The researchers presented their work at the 3rd International Conference on Obesity and Diet Management.

Diabetes is a serious condition where your blood glucose level is too high due to changes in the metabolism of carbohydrates. The main causes of this disease are reduced insulin production (type 1 diabetes) and reduced insulin sensitivity in tissues (type 2 diabetes). Insulin is formed in the pancreas and reduces glucose concentration in blood plasma securing its supply to tissues. If the level of insulin is reduced, the levels of blood sugar increase influencing all body systems, from the gastroenteric tract to the cardiovascular system. For example, the kidneys of diabetic patients lose a lot of water which may cause dehydration. Micro- and macro-elements, that play an important role in the transportation of useful substances to tissue cells, also leave the body with water.

There are a lot of factors that affect the development of diabetes, such as reduced physical activity, obesity and bad ecology. Overweight is one of the biggest risk factors for type 2 diabetes. According to the research, obese people are 4 times more likely to develop diabetes. However, the mechanism of connection between overweight and type 2 diabetes haven’t been fully understood recently.


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The researchers from the Laboratory of Immunology and Cellular Biotechnologies (IKBFU) carried out a study and found out one development path of this dangerous condition. It is associated with receptors of incretins, pancreatic hormones, that are produced when food gets into one’s stomach. The production of these hormones increases insulin secretion to balance blood glucose levels after eating. According to the study, mutations in incretin receptor-coding genes considerably increase the risks of type 2 diabetes development. The researchers analyzed the data of 191 patients, 90 of them had obesity and suffered from type 2 diabetes, and 101 did not have the disease. The researchers also collected data from the control group of 137 relatively healthy people. It turned out that there are 5 incretin receptor-coding gene mutations that statistically correlate with diabetes development.

Elena Kirienkova, a co-author of the study and a researcher from the Laboratory of Immunology and Cellular Biotechnology (IKBFU):

We found out that a replacement of one amino acid in incretin receptor-coding genes leads to changes, which affect the binding between insulin and its receptor in the pancreas. We believe that this mechanism plays an important role in type 2 diabetes development in obese people.

Courtesy of Larisa Litvinova.


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