Research Summary

Why does iron overload associated with insulin resistance occur?

Diabetes mellitus is one of the most important public health problems in the world and especially in India, where the incidence of the disease is on the increase. The current management strategies are mainly based on normalization of blood glucose levels by dietary and lifestyle modifications and use of hypoglycemic drugs or insulin, in attempts to reduce the incidence of long-term complications of the disease. There are currently few or no strategies to prevent or retard the development of insulin resistance in susceptible individuals.

It has been shown that iron overload occurs in individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Insulin sensitivity has been shown to improve with iron depletion. However, the mechanisms involved in these processes are not known. It is not clear whether iron accumulation is a cause or consequence of insulin resistance and whether development of type 2 diabetes mellitus can be prevented or retarded by preventing iron accumulation.

Over the past decade or so, there has been an exponential increase in knowledge of events involved in iron homeostasis. As part of this project, I intend to utilize this knowledge to better understand the role of iron in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance. My proposed studies will involve in vitro and animal models, as well as patients with diabetes mellitus. The hope is that the results of this work will contribute to exploring new avenues for more effective treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus and possibly even primary prevention