Biotech Updates

Researchers Discover MicroRNA that may Protect from Obesity and Diabetes

March 16, 2016

Obesity is an important factor in the development of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. While the role of several organs has been implicated in this process, the cell types and factors driving this process have not been clear.

Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) have discovered that a small, non-coding RNA molecule, miR-181b, is an important determinant of obesity-induced changes by controlling the function of the vessels in adipose tissue.

The team hypothesized that establishing this microRNA in obese mice may improve the development of insulin resistance. Injections of a miR-181b mimic into obese mice improved their insulin sensitivity, glucose levels and reduced inflammation in adipose tissues.

The protein phosphatase PHLPP2 was found as the direct target of miR-181b, and that suppression of the protein improved insulin sensitivity, glucose levels and inflammation in mice. The team also noted that levels of PHLPP2 were higher in diabetic patients than healthy patients, suggesting that findings in mice are relevant to human disease.

For more information, read the article on American Heart Association Journal.