Researchers at Joslin Diabetes Center have identified an enzyme called PKC-delta as an important molecular modifier for development of insulin resistance, diabetes and fatty liver in mice. They also have found evidence suggesting a similar role for the enzyme in humans, making PKC-delta a promising new target for drugs for type 2 diabetes.
The researchers compared different strains of mice and found that PKC-delta levels correlated closely with insulin resistance and the abnormalities in glucose tolerance. In addition, the insulin resistance correlated with increased fat in the liver, an increasing problem in people with insulin resistance.
Biopsies of human liver tissue have also showed that levels of the enzyme are heightened in people who are obese or have diabetes. The findings suggest that drugs that inhibit the activity of PKC-delta in the liver and other tissues could potentially aid treatments for diabetes and fatty liver disease, which is second only to alcohol as a cause of liver failure.
These findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.