Dr. Franck Mauvais-Jarvis, a professor at Tulane University's School of Medicine, said understanding the effects of testosterone on insulin production could lead to better treatments for men with low levels of the hormone and diabetes. Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano/Tulane University
NEW ORLEANS, April 28 (UPI) -- Although scientists have known low testosterone increases risk for diabetes, a recent study has shown the effect low levels of the hormone have on blood glucose.
Researchers at Tulane University found low testosterone increases the risk, which they say could lead to new treatments for men with low testosterone due age or prostate cancer treatment.
"We have found the cause -- and a potential treatment pathway -- for type 2 diabetes in testosterone-deficient men," Dr. Franck Mauvais-Jarvis, a professor in the Tulane University School of Medicine said in a press release.
For the study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, researchers used mice bred with pancreatic beta cells lacking a receptor for testosterone, feeding them a diet high in fat and sugar and tested their body's response to it. Mice without receptors all secreted less insulin and developed glucose intolerance conditions similar to diabetes.
The researchers then tested the effects of testosterone and glucose on human islet cells treated with a drug to inhibit the function of receptors, showing the same decreased insulin production exhibited in the mice.
After observing the effect in human cells, researchers cultured mouse and human cells to observe the effects of testosterone on insulin production could be blocked by glucagon-like peptide-1 -- suggesting testosterone amplifies the effects of GLP-1, often used to treat diabetes.
"Our study shows that testosterone is an anti-diabetic hormone in men," Mauvais-Jarvis said. "If we can modulate its action without side effects, it is a therapeutic avenue for type 2 diabetes."