Work your muscles for metabolism

Work your muscles for metabolism

Glucose monitor and gym towel

Skeletal muscle is an important organ in the development of metabolic diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes (T2D), partly because it takes up and stores lots of sugar after a meal. Furthermore, skeletal muscle responds beneficially to physical activity, as does the whole body. With this in mind, Dr Brendan Gabriel leads research at the Rowett Institute focusing on skeletal muscle, its role in disease pathology, and assessing physical activity as a treatment or preventative intervention in metabolic disease.

One of his main projects, (in collaboration with the university of Edinburgh) uses data generated from animals that have been bred to be fat or lean over several generations. Using this data, alongside human data, he aims to identify new targets which can cause obesity. Preliminary data from this collaboration suggests that an enzyme known as phospholipase may be linked to altered metabolism of skeletal muscle in fat animals.

Skeletal muscle also responds beneficially to exercise training and may be one of the most potent clinical interventions in this tissue. People with T2D are often prescribed metformin (a T2D treatment) and encouraged to engage in regular physical activity. However, many people with T2D do not do the recommended amount of physical activity and report more relapse from activity than the general population. 

Dr Gabriel’s recent work (in collaboration with the Karolinska Institute) has shown changes in the circadian rhythm of metabolism within skeletal muscle of people with T2D. These results highlight the need to consider the time-of-day when prescribing medicine for T2D. Another of Dr Gabriel’s projects aims to test the hypothesis that metformin interferes with exercise effects in skeletal muscle, and whether timed treatment can improve the beneficial effects of these combined therapies. 

This research was conducted by Dr Brendan Gabriel.

Research funded by European Foundation for the Study of Diabetes, the Novo Nordisk Foundation, an NHS Grampian Endowment Fund and an SFC Covid-19 grant extension fund.