Lack of zinc linked to diabetes

July 23, 2010 at 7:42 PM

ANN ARBOR, Mich., July 23 (UPI) -- A U.S. researcher says zinc may play a role in blood sugar regulation and in avoiding type 2 diabetes.

Ayyalusamy Ramamoorthy of the University of Michigan suggests in type 2 diabetes -- a protein called amylin forms dense clumps that shut down insulin-producing cells. However, in the presence of zinc, amylin does not form clumps.

"We found that one of the likely factors stopping amylin from attacking the insulin-producing islet cells of the pancreas is zinc, which normally is found in high amounts in these cells, but is deficient in people with type 2 diabetes," Ramamoorthy says in a statement. "By understanding what stops amylin from attacking islet cells in normal people, we hope we'll be able to understand how it is attacking them in people with diabetes."

The research, published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, suggests zinc prevents amylin -- also known as Islet Amyloid Polypeptide -- from forming harmful clumps.

Ramamoorthy and colleagues looked at how amylin acts with and without zinc present using several methods, including nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

"Ultimately, we want to understand how the whole scenario leads to type 2 diabetes," Ramamoorthy says.

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