Lormone ghrelin’s role in blood glucose regulation elucidated

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UT Southwestern research investigating the blood glucose-regulatory actions of the hormone ghrelin may have implications for development of new treatments for diabetes.

Blood glucose is tightly regulated by the opposing actions of the hormones insulin and glucagon. Earlier studies led by Dr. Roger Unger, Professor of Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center, demonstrated that experimentally deleting or neutralizing receptors for glucagon can prevent or correct dangerously high blood glucose levels in different models of diabetes.

“Dr. Unger’s research suggested that high or unopposed glucagon action that results from insulin deficiency is the main culprit in the development of high blood glucose — known as hyperglycemia — in diabetes,” said Dr. Jeffrey Zigman, Professor of Internal Medicine and Psychiatry at UT Southwestern and senior author of the study, published online in the journal Diabetes.

“He proposed that blocking or neutralizing glucagon action may serve as a new treatment for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. This idea formed the basis of our current study,” Dr. Zigman added.

Like glucagon and insulin, ghrelin also plays an important role in blood glucose control. But because the hormone was only discovered in the 1990s, ghrelin’s actions on blood glucose haven’t been studied as much as those of glucagon and insulin. The UTSW research team wanted to learn more…