Scientists Ponder Why Exercise Helps Control High BG in Type 2s

Understanding which proteins help control blood glucose during and after exercise could lead to new drug therapies or more effective exercise to prevent type 2 diabetes and other health problems associated with high blood sugar.

Insulin and muscle contractions are the two most important stimuli to increase glucose transport into muscle cells. Cells use glucose for energy, but scientists don’t completely understand how this works. Insulin resistance happens when insulin produced by the body doesn’t properly stimulate the transport of glucose into the cells for energy. 

Gregory Cartee, a professor at the University of Michigan School of Kinesiology, and colleagues looked at how two different proteins believed to be important in stimulating glucose transport react to two different enzymes also related to glucose transport. They wanted to understand the contribution of the two specific proteins in skeletal muscle stimulated by insulin. The goal was to see which proteins are important with exercise.

It turns out that the protein TBC1D1 is more important for exercise-stimulated glucose. This discovery allows scientists to develop ways to make that protein work better for insulin-resistant people.

“Almost all people with type 2 diabetes have muscle insulin resistance,” he said. “This doesn’t cause diabetes by itself, but it’s an essential component that contributes to type 2 diabetes. This impacts millions of people. Even for people who aren’t diabetic, insulin resistance is associated with lots of health problems,” said Professor Cartee in a press release.

“The muscles seems to have the machinery to respond to exercise, even though they aren’t responding to insulin normally,” he said. “If we understood how exercise worked, we could develop more effective exercise protocols,” continued Cartee.

Next up is studying what specifically TBC1D1 does to promote glucose transport during and after exercise.

Source: University of Michigan