Petra Kienesberger, PhD

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Dalhousie University

Role of the adipokine autotaxin in obesity-associated insulin resistance

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Insulin resistance, a major complication of obesity, is a condition where tissues such as skeletal muscle become unresponsive to the blood sugar-lowering hormone insulin. Insulin resistance can lead to type 2 diabetes, which is associated with a shorter life expectancy. Fat tissue releases proteins that influence insulin resistance in obesity. One of these recently identified fat-derived proteins is autotaxin.

Dr Kienesberger’s group and others have shown that autotaxin levels in the bloodstream are increased in obese insulin-resistant mice and humans. They will test whether autotaxin plays a critical role in the development of insulin resistance in skeletal muscle. These studies will ultimately allow them to determine if drugs reducing or blocking autotaxin could provide new and more effective therapies for insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

Kienesberger lab group, left to right, Carine Nzirorera, Andrew Cowie,  Kenneth D’Souza, Petra Kienesberger

Kienesberger lab group, left to right, Carine Nzirorera, Andrew Cowie, Kenneth D’Souza, Petra Kienesberger