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Hormone Links Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes

Kate Traynor

A recently discovered hormone may be the factor that links obesity to the onset of type 2 diabetes, say University of Pennsylvania researchers.

According to a report published in the Jan. 18 issue of Nature (PDF), researchers have isolated and expressed in vitro a mouse gene that encodes an insulin-resistance hormone. The hormone, which has been named resistin, is produced and excreted by fat cells and is present in high levels in the serum of mice with inherited or diet-induced obesity.

Penn researchers were able to counteract the insulin-neutralizing effects of resistin in obese mice by administering an antibody to the hormone or treating them with rosiglitazone, a thiazolidinedione drug that increases the susceptibility of cells to insulin.

The researchers said that they have identified a similar gene in humans and successfully expressed the gene product in vitro.