UMMS instructor studying link between protein in type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases
- Medical School
Adults with diabetes are nearly four times as likely to develop cardiovascular disease as those without diabetes, according to the American Heart Association. The potential link between diabetes and heart disease is the focus of research by Shashi Kant, PhD, instructor of medicine, that could potentially lead to development of better therapies.
Dr. Kant recently received a $231,000 Scientist Development Grant from the American Heart Association to study a specific protein that could be the link between type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis.
“Discovering a molecular trigger for insulin resistance and atherosclerosis and successfully linking these two conditions could set the stage for more focused treatments and studies on type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis,” Kant said.
Atherosclerosis is an inflammatory disease that is enhanced by small proteins called cytokines. Chronic inflammation is a serious condition that can promote the progression of type 2 diabetes.
Based on preliminary data, Kant found that the activation of Mitogen Kinase 4 (MKK4), a regulatory protein that controls pro-inflammatory cytokine production, is a prerequisite for high fat diet induced-insulin resistance in animal models. Kant is researching whether MKK4 is a critical link between obesity-induced inflammation, insulin resistance and atherosclerosis.
“We plan to determine the specific role of MKK4 in western diet-induced insulin resistance, inflammation, and atherosclerosis. We will knockout MKK4 in our models and examine the effects it has on insulin resistance and the production of inflammation-triggering cytokines and development of atherosclerosis,” Kant said.