How Low Testosterone Ups Diabetes Risk
Opening the door for new treatment for Type-2 diabetes in men, researchers have discovered the mechanism that put males with low testosterone at greater risk of developing the debilitating disease.
Testosterone helps men regulate blood sugar by triggering key signaling mechanisms in islets clusters of cells within the pancreas that produce insulin, the researchers identified.
The study could help identify new treatments for Type-2 diabetes in the large number of men with low testosterone due to age or prostate cancer therapies.
"We have found the cause and a potential treatment pathway for type 2 diabetes in testosterone-deficient men," said senior study author Franck Mauvais-Jarvis, professor at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana, US.
"Our study shows that testosterone is an anti-diabetic hormone in men. If we can modulate its action without side effects, it is a therapeutic avenue for Type-2 diabetes," Mauvais-Jarvis noted.
The findings were published in the journal Cell Metabolism.
Researchers used specially bred male mice with pancreatic beta cells lacking the receptor to testosterone (the androgen receptor). They fed them a Western diet rich in fats and sugar and tested their response to glucose.
The mice without androgen receptors all developed lower insulin secretion, leading to glucose intolerance compared with normal mice in the control group.
In further experiments with human islet cells, the researchers discovered that islet cells whose receptor to testosterone is inhibited shows decreased insulin production.