Different causes of insulin resistance

In type 2 diabetes the cells in the body have reduced sensitivity to insulin, referred to as insulin resistance. It is known from previous research that this is not due to the recipient molecules of the insulin being defective or too few in number.

The error is instead due to the fact that the signals that should lead to the cell taking up sugar are not functioning. Ongoing research suggests that these defects in signal transmission may be of several different kinds in the same cell or tissue.

"There is a need to know more about these defects and how they vary so that we can develop good drugs for insulin resistance," says Professor Per-Olof Berggren of the Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery. The same research team has also discovered that insulin resistance can have a direct adverse effect on the ability of the beta cells to secrete insulin. This means that the mechanisms that lead to insulin resistance in the liver, muscle and fat can also affect the functioning and survival of the beta cells.

First published in Medical Sciene, no 1, 2009