Researchers at the Virginia Tech have identified a potential biomarker in pre-diabetic people that could help prevent them from developing Type-2 diabetes.
The researchers discovered that pre-diabetic people, who were considered to be insulin resistant, also had altered mitochondrial DNA.
In the study, researchers made the connection by analysing blood samples taken from 40 participants enrolled in the diaBEAT-it program.
Participants did not have diabetes or cardiovascular disease, but were pre-diabetic and showed signs of insulin resistance.
Blood samples revealed participants had lower amounts of mitochondrial DNA with a higher amount of methylation than healthy people.
Mitochondrion is responsible for converting chemical energy from food into energy that cells can use.
Zhiyong Cheng of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences said that if the body was insulin resistant, or unable to respond properly to insulin, it could affect a person’s mitochondrial function and overall energy levels.
Cheng said that this is the first time they have made the molecular link between insulin resistance and mitochondrial DNA changes.
Cheng and other researchers think this link could be important for treating pre-diabetic individuals to prevent Type 2 Diabetes.
Researcher Fabio Almeida said that there was no known cure for Type 2 diabetes, and added that early diagnosis and intervention was critical to prevent this disease.
The study appears in the Journal Clinical Epigenetics.