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Amino acid arginine a promising target for type-2 diabetes treatment

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Arginine could help treat type-2 diabetes

Eating foods that include salmon nuts and eggs could be good therapy for diabetes finds new research. Scientists from the University of Copenhagen have discovered the amino acid arginine found in the foods improved the body's ability to control glucose in mouse studies.

The investigation showed arginine worked as well as some anti-diabetic drugs known as glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonists that are prescribed for treating diabetes.

Christoffer Clemmensen who conducted the new experiments said in a press release, “In fact, the amino acid is just as effective as several well-established drugs for type 2 diabetics.”

The researchers gave lean and obese mice arginine supplements for their study to test the amino acid's ability to remove glucose from the body finding the food constituent improved glucose control by 40 percent in both groups of mice.

“You cannot, of course, cure diabetes by eating unlimited quantities of arginine-rich almonds and hazelnuts. However, our findings indicate that diet-based interventions with arginine-containing foods can have a positive effect on how the body processes the food we eat," Clemmensen said.

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The finding is published in the journal Endocrinology.

How arginine works

The researchers who also collaborated with scientists at the University of Cincinnati in the US discovered arginine has an indirect effect on controlling blood sugar levels because it increases the gut hormone GLP-1 that controls appetite and regulates glucose metabolism.

Arginine has the ability to secrete GLP-1 that in turn boosts insulin production.

The amino acid also has been shown to have benefits for heart health. In addition to getting the amino acid from food, our body manufacturers it.

The next step the researchers say is to study arginine in humans.

Professor Hans Bräuner-Osborne , who is continuing arginine research for treating type 2 diabetes at the Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology at the University of Copenhagen said: "This exciting result has raised several new questions which we want to investigate. Can other amino acids do what arginine does? Which intestinal mechanisms ‘measure’ arginine and lead to the release of GLP-1? Finally, there is the more long-term perspective – the question of whether the findings can be transferred from mice to humans and be used to design drugs that will benefit diabetes patients."