Karolinska InstitutetIf you are a diabetic patient, then this bit of news may hold your attention. As per a new study from the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet, it is claimed that the genes that control the energy consumption of cells apparently have a different structure and expression in type II diabetics as compared to healthy people. The experts are of the opinion that these epigenetic modifications may play an important role in the development of the disease.

An individual who has a lower sensitivity to insulin in muscles and organs may have type II diabetes and an apparent decreased capability to consume energy in the form of glucose. Heredity and environmental factors could both be caught up in the disease pathogenesis, but scientists are apparently still uncertain about the mechanisms behind it.

A study group at Karolinska Institutet has apparently exposed that genes in the muscle cells of diabetics may be chemically adapted through what is called as DNA methylation. It was apparently discovered that in muscles cells taken from patients with early-onset diabetes, a gene selected as PGC-1alpha was supposedly altered and had reduced expression. PGC-1alpha may be the controller of other genes that could adjust the metabolism of glucose by the cell.

The team has also verified that DNA methylation apparently happens swiftly, when cells from healthy people may be shown to particular aspects linked with diabetes like increased levels of free fatty acids and cytokines. DNA methylation could be a form of epigenetic regulation which may be a process involving chemical alterations that could be forced outwardly on genes. It may adjust their activity without any changes to the underlying DNA sequence.

Juleen Zierath, who headed the study, mentioned that this type of epigenetic modification might be the link that explains how environmental factors may have a long-term influence on the development of type II diabetes. It remains to be seen whether the DNA methylation of this gene can be affected by, say, dietary factors.

The findings were published in Cell Metabolism.