Mynatt, Randall , Ph.D.
Carnitine and Mitochondrial Function
General Research Subject: Type 2 Diabetes
Focus: Insulin Action\Insulin Resistance, Insulin Action\Metabolism, Insulin Action\Transgenic Models
Type of Grant: Basic Science
Project Start Date: July 1, 2010
Project End Date: June 30, 2013
Diabetes Type: Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease beginning with a pre-diabetic state of insulin resistance. The use of dietary supplements, such as L-carnitine, that improve insulin resistance represent a very attractive approach to compliment other early interventions such as education, exercise and nutrition. Completion of these projects may have public health significance. Positive results would support the use of carnitine as a relatively inexpensive adjunctive treatment for the prevention and treatment of diabetes.
What area of diabetes research does your project cover? What role will this particular project play in preventing, treating and/or curing diabetes?
My area of investigation is the development of insulin resistance. More specifically we examine fat metabolism in skeletal muscle. It is thought that incomplete fat oxidation causes the accumulation of various fat metabolites that inhibit insulin signaling and mitochondrial function. Carnitine is a nutrient that transports fat in cell as well as in the blood and urine. Our experiments in diabetic mice demonstrate that carnitine supplementation improves insulin action and lowers blood glucose. The goal of this proposal is to find the mechanisms by which carnitine supplementation improves insulin action and hopefully translate this research into clinical trials.
If a person with diabetes were to ask you how your project will help them in the future, how would you respond?
Carnitine supplementation may prove to be an inexpensive adjunctive treatment for type 2 diabetes. Carefully controlled trails in pre-diabetics and diabetics could determine the efficacy of carnitine in treating and/or preventing diabetes.
Why is it important for you, personally, to become involved in diabetes research? What role will this award play in your research efforts?
I have been involved in obesity/diabetes research for 15 years. As a graduate student in Nutrition Research I was involved in projects to examine the ability of carnitine to prevent fatty liver. I became interested in carnitine again after emerging evidence suggested that fatty liver and fatty muscle were insulin resistant. We began a series of experiments with carnitine supplementation in diabetic mice and the results clearly demonstrated that carnitine supplementation had very beneficial effects. This award is absolutely essential for the carnitine research. Because carnitine is a dietary supplement and not a bona fide diabetes drug the road to obtain funding has been difficult. In essence this award is a life saver for this line of research.
In what direction do you see the future of diabetes research going?
Personally I believe that lifestyle intervention by improving dietary habits and increasing daily exercise offer the greatest benefit in diabetes prevention. However, people will still develop diabetes and will need pharmalogical intervention. Possible the combination of diabetes drugs and supplements, such as carnitine, will be beneficial and/or help prevent deleterious side effects of the anti-diabetic drugs.
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