Study finds VPS39 gene may be associated with type 2 diabetes

According to a study published in Nature Communications, a gene associated with muscle stem cells was discovered which may be of significance for patients with type 2 diabetes.

Conducted at the Swedish Lund University, the gene of focus was VPS39, which is not as active in the muscle cells among patients with type 2 diabetes.

“In people with type 2 diabetes, the VPS39 gene is significantly less active in the muscle cells than it is in other people, and the stem cells with less activity of the gene do not form new muscle cells to the same degree. The gene is important when muscle cells absorb sugar from blood and build new muscle,” said the study’s lead author Charlotte Ling in a press release.

“Our study is the first ever to link this gene to type 2 diabetes,” Ling also stated.

The study included 14 participants with diabetes and another 14 without any physical or mental health illness. Epigenetic changes in the muscle stem cells was investigated among all of the participants.

What Ling and colleagues concluded: “The study clearly showed that muscle stem cells that lack the function of the gene VPS39, which is lower in type 2 diabetes, also lack the ability to form new mature muscle cells. This is because muscle stem cells that lack VPS39 due to altered epigenetic mechanisms cannot change their metabolism in the same way as muscle stem cells from controls—the cells therefore remain immature or break down and die.”

“The genome, our DNA, cannot be changed, although epigenetics in effect does. With this new knowledge, it is possible to change the dysfunctional epigenetics that occur in type 2 diabetes,” Ling uncovered.

Image courtesy of Atriumhealth
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