Leptin and diabetes as a topic has been touched upon by the Chinese Academy of Sciences researchers at the Northwest Institute of Plateau Biology. They reported that the development that may happen to the pika's leptin protein may be due to the cold and not hypoxia. The pika is a mammal that is normally cold-adaptive.
Pikas are small and do not hibernate. They only live in cold zones at high elevation or at high altitude. They are restricted to the region of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. This area is sometimes called the roof of the world as it has an average altitude of >3000 meters and located at high latitude.
Climate-wise, the two notable characteristics of the Plateau are hypoxia and low temperature so during their development, the pikas have become tolerant to low temperature and hypoxic. Their metabolic rates are high and so is their oxygen use ratio in order to deal with the cold and hypoxic region.
Dr. Zhao said that their research team showed that when compared with other similar mammals, the pika leptin has a unique characteristic indicating its functional variation. This may be a common trait of the whole pika family due to the cold survival location.
Since the leptin plays a vital role in the metabolism of energy, glucose and lipid, this study clarifies the significant ecology issues of the way small mammals respond to very stressful environment. It also explains the importance of the pika leptin's role in the way the pikas adjust to where they live.
This might help us understand and recognize other ways to treat the diseases that are linked to metabolic disorders such as diabetes and obesity. Dr. Zhao said that their research team is now continuing their investigations of the pika leptin in order to confirm their finding.
I have long been interested in this topic since I first read it a few years ago. After going back to research it further, I found there has been a giant leap in its progress. Now studies have proven that it is not only beneficial for weight loss but rather a small amount of it can help reverse the diabetes.
The researcher from Rockefeller University, Jeffrey Friedman mentioned in the news release that they found the significant impact of this potent leptin was undetectable. So now we have another weapon in our arsenal to help in our battle and that is the story of leptin and diabetes.