A naturally present molecule may be able to avoid a substantial majority of the harmful chemical changes that occur in the body's cells as a result of diabetes and obesity, according to new research.
When glucose remains in the blood in type 2 diabetes, it might not be used as a fuel source and instead can cause the formation of toxic molecules. Nottingham Trent University researchers studied how metabolic stress, caused by extended exposure to high amounts of sugar and fats, affects proteins in the blood and tissues and prohibits them from operating properly. The team also investigated the effect of carnosine, a molecule present in human skeletal tissue and received in the diet via fish and meat. It could also be used as a dietary supplement. While further research is needed, it might open the way for the future introduction of unique classes of carnosine-related drugs that could help combat this previously treatable component of type 2 diabetes.
The researchers used mass spectrometry (the technique of weighing and separating molecules) to find proteins in patients’ blood samples that had been harmed by high amounts of fatty acids and glucose. They were able to recognize disease-related alterations in people with type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes, and obesity by analyzing their blood to that of healthy humans. Further research was subsequently conducted to determine the extent to which carnosine was capable of preventing comparable harmful protein changes in tissues and cells associated with glucose control.
The researchers also discovered that carnosine reduced 65–90% of these harmful chemical alterations while also protecting the functional characteristics of damaged cells. According to the researchers, despite the damaged cells, carnosine was able to sustain cellular function by absorbing excess toxic molecules. They have previously demonstrated the promise of carnosine in regulating blood sugar levels, but they now know which proteins are affected.