The new findings, led by researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), offer a potential new target for the development of anti-diabetic therapies to lower serum RBP4 (retinol binding protein 4) levels as well as an early means of identifying individuals who are at risk of developing diabetes – before the onset of overt disease.

The scientists first studied individuals with either obesity, impaired glucose tolerance, a “pre-diabetic” state, or with type 2 diabetes, comparing the blood levels of RBP4 in these insulin-resistant subjects with levels found in non-obese healthy subjects. Their results showed that not only were RBP4 levels higher in all cases in which insulin resistance was high, but that elevated serum RBP4 was also closely associated with components of the metabolic syndrome, including increased body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio, serum triglyceride levels, and systolic blood pressure, as well as decreased levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL).

The study was then extended to subjects with normal body weight and normal blood glucose, but with a strong family history of type 2 diabetes. As predicted, the investigators found elevated RBP4 levels among this group as well. Finally, the authors tested whether a therapeutic intervention – in this case, exercise – could lower RBP4 levels and increase insulin sensitivity. They found that all of the people who improved their insulin sensitivity with exercise also lowered their serum RBP4 levels. Among the one-third of the subjects who did not improve their insulin sensitivity, neither did RBP4 levels go down.

MEDICA.de; Source: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center