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NIH-funded study investigates key protein tied to insulin resistance

(ATHENS, Ohio — March 6, 2015) The National Institutes of Health has awarded more than $371,000 to an Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine study that will explore the link between myostatin, a key protein that regulates muscle growth, and insulin resistance. Leslie Consitt, Ph.D., an assistant professor of physiology at the Heritage College, first discovered the connection in preliminary studies.

“This finding opens a number of doors for current and future research projects,” said Consitt. She hopes her NIH-funded research will lead to the development of targeted and efficient treatment strategies for conditions associated with insulin resistance, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

“Dr. Consitt’s research has the potential to help those at risk for obesity or other metabolic problems in remarkable ways,” said Heritage College Executive Dean Kenneth H. Johnson, D.O. “At the Heritage College, we continually seek ways to improve quality of life for those with chronic health conditions.”

Consitt’s research has focused on understanding the causes of insulin resistance in skeletal muscle and its relationship to metabolic diseases. Skeletal muscle is the primary tissue responsible for absorbing glucose from the bloodstream.

Consitt is comparing the myostatin levels in the skeletal muscle of lean, healthy individuals to that of morbidly obese individuals who suffer from insulin resistance to see how muscle in different body types behaves differently. Her next steps are to continue investigating myostatin’s relationship to insulin resistance in obese individuals and to get a better understanding of the cellular pathways myostatin activates.

“The second part of the NIH grant is focused on using the muscle from obese individuals to grow human muscle cells where we can specifically manipulate the myostatin-signaling pathway in our laboratory to establish a cause-and-effect relationship,” said Consitt.

The three-year study is funded through the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

The Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine is a leader in training dedicated primary care physicians who are prepared to address the most pervasive medical needs in the state and the nation. Approximately 50 percent of Heritage College alumni practice in primary care and 60 percent practice in Ohio. CARE LEADS HERE.


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Last updated: 01/28/2016