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Hormone may be heart-healthy insulin substitute

A study in mice finds leptin lowers blood sugar without raising cholesterol

2:54pm, March 1, 2010

Type 1 diabetics may soon have a more heart-friendly way to control blood sugar.

A new study in mice shows that leptin, a hormone produced by fat cells, lowers blood sugar as well as insulin does; but unlike insulin it does not increase cholesterol levels. The finding could quickly lead to improved treatment for type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes.

Leptin and insulin worked equally well to lower blood sugar levels in diabetic mice, and using a combination of the two hormones allowed researchers to dramatically decrease the amount of insulin mice needed, Roger Unger of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas and colleagues report in a paper to be published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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