Diabetes: A fish story
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego have uncovered a mechanism that could contribute to the therapeutic effects of
GlaxoSmithKline plc's Lovaza, a blockbuster fish oil extract of w-3 fatty acids. It is marketed as an adjunct for dieting to decrease serum triglyceride levels in patients with hypertriglyceridemia, a condition with multiple causes including diabetes. The team found that w-3 fatty acids exert their anti-inflammatory and insulin-sensitizing effects through G protein-coupled receptor 120.1
The findings could rekindle interest in G protein-coupled receptor 120 (GPR120) as a target for diabetes, which has been passed over in favor of its cousins, free fatty acid receptor 1 (FFAR1; GPR40) and GPR119.
GPR120 initially garnered interest as an obesity and diabetes target following publication of a 2005 paper in Nature Medicineshowing that the receptor triggered the release of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) from intestinal cells when stimulated by unsaturated long-chain free fatty acids.2
However, according to Jerrold Olefsky, associate dean for scientific affairs and a professor of medicine at UCSD, companies dismissed GPR120 as a potential therapeutic target for diabetes after follow-up work suggested its direct effect on GLP-1 release would be minor or