Multiple microRNAs muscle in on diabetes – research in Genome Medicine

Muscle mRNA expression is invariant with respect to diabetes status, but coordinated changes in numerous microRNAs may control protein abundance and affect skeletal muscle insulin resistance, according to research recently published in Genome Medicine.

Muscle insulin resistance is a condition characterised by normal levels of insulin but a reduction in muscle glucose uptake, which can lead to high blood glucose concentration and is a contributing factor in type 2 diabetes.

In their article “Integration of microRNA changes in vivo identifies novel molecular features of muscle insulin resistance in Type 2 Diabetes”, James Timmons and colleagues report a study in which they used gene-chips to examine mRNA and miRNA levels in patients with type 2 diabetes compared to healthy controls.  They found that protein-coding gene expression showed no significant differences, whereas the levels of many miRNAs were altered in disease.  Their analyses suggest that these miRNAs work in concert to affect protein abundance, and their dysregulation may consequently lead to changes in skeletal muscle insulin resistance.

Dysregulation of miRNAs is known to play a part in cancer and vascular disease, but their significance in many other complex diseases is not well understood. This study indicates that miRNAs may have an important role in diabetes, and the authors say that they may be used as diagnostic markers of insulin resistance status in the future.

Rebecca Furlong
Assistant Editor, Genome Medicine

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