Researchers at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) discovered that a tiny class of molecules called micrornas could control the liver’s metabolism, which is crucial in maintaining blood sugar levels in the body.
According to researchers, the study could help save lives of people suffering from liver diseases. This could be done by utilizing small RNA (ribonucleic acid) molecules as potential therapeutic targets to control glucose or fat metabolism, and as a plausible intervention to metabolic liver diseases.
“This study identifies an important mechanism of gene regulation during feeding-fasting cycles, one that is de-regulated during aging and metabolic diseases like type II diabetes,” said Arnab Mukhopadhyay, scientist, National Institute of Immunology, Delhi, who was not involved in the study. Researchers said there has recently been excitement in molecular biology to understand how feed-fast cycles regulate physiology. “There’s also been a surge in efforts by global scientific community to discover molecular factors that respond to food intake and circadian rhythm, especially in liver. However, the underlying mechanism is unclear,” said Ullas Kolthurseetharam, lead investigator and professor at the department of biological sciences, TIFR.
Sunil Laxman, scientist, Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, Bengaluru, said, “The micrornas are different in mice and humans, so the class of micrornas present in human livers, carrying out this function, is unknown. If discovered, they could be critical for appropriate liver metabolic outputs, and therefore disease.”