As people become overweight, their skeletal muscle develops insulin resistance that can lead to Type 2 diabetes.

In a study published in the journal Scientific Reports, the research team found the activity of a protein called PTEN (for Phosphatase and tensin homolog deleted on chromosome 10), is different between men and women.

"In our study, women's muscle appeared more efficient in neutralising this protein, and this allows insulin to work better to move sugar from circulation to muscle," said the lead author M. Constantine Samaan, assistant professor of pediatrics at Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, McMaster University in Canada.

When PTEN is active, it prevents insulin from signalling properly in muscle, which reduces the amount of sugar a muscle takes. This 'muscle insulin resistance' increases the chance of developing Type 2 diabetes, the researchers said.

"This protein is one explanation of why women are relatively protected from Type 2 diabetes, despite having more body fat content compared to men at a given weight," Samaan added.

The findings provide a therapeutic target to improve muscle responses to insulin to treat and prevent diabetes.


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