Protein – A Bulwark Against Diabetes?

When you hear the word protein, you probably think of foods such as chicken, beef and perhaps eggs. If you’re a regular at the gym, you likely also associate protein with muscle building. According to a recent study, you might also be able to associate protein with diabetes.

WAT is the Problem?

Appearing in the journal EBioMedicine, this report was primarily authored by researchers from the University of British Columbia, as well as Sweden’s Karolinska Institute. The protein that piqued the author’s interest was known as CD248. Specifically, the research team wanted to determine if this protein was linked to a person’s risk of type 2 diabetes.

To put this thesis to the test, the authors examined the prevalence of CD248 in white adipose tissue (WAT) samples. Those who consume excessive amounts of food will see their WAT tissue expand in size, as these excess calories are stored as fat. If a person’s body stores too much fat for an excessive amount of time, they run the risk of potentially developing diabetes.

The authors reviewed WAT samples from the following types of people:

  • Subjects with thin body types
  • Obese subjects
  • Those diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes
  • Those with no history of diabetes

So what did the researchers find? In short, they determined that the CD248 protein was more numerous among those with type 2 diabetes. The same could also be said for those who were significantly overweight. Given these findings, the authors concluded that high CD248 levels could signal the onset of diabetes.

In a second experiment, the research team examined mice without CD248 in their WAT. They found that these rodents seemed to be shielded from type 2 diabetes, even though CD248 was present in other types of cells.

In summarizing his team’s findings, study co-author Dr. Edward Conway stated that “while these discoveries are exciting, we are still some distance from a new treatment. Our immediate goals are to understand how CD248 works so that safe and effective drugs that reduce the protein’s levels or that interfere with its function can be designed.”

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