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A new study by Canadian researchers suggests that poor muscle health may be a complication of type 1 diabetes, even in young, active adults.

Researchers from McMaster University in Hamilton and York University in Toronto looked at samples of muscle tissue from adults 22 to 30 years of age. Twelve of the participants had type 1 diabetes and 12 did not have diabetes. All the participants were more active than Diabetes Canada’s recommended weekly levels for physical activity (at least 150 minutes per week of aerobic exercise and at least two sessions per week of resistance exercise).

Looking at the participants’ muscle tissue under the microscope, the researchers found changes in the mitochondria of those with diabetes. Mitochondria are the structures in cells that take energy (sugar) from food and release it for the muscle to use. Exercise usually makes muscles more efficient at using sugar to make energy. However, in the people with diabetes, not only were the mitochondria less able to produce energy for the muscle, they were also releasing high amounts of toxic by-products that cause cell damage.

The researchers of the study suspect that type 1 diabetes is making the mitochondria less efficient. “The current amount of exercise people were doing was not enough to prevent that problem,” says Christopher Perry, study co-senior author and an associate professor in the School of Kinesiology and Health Sciences and the Muscle Health Research Centre at York University. “We need to determine if even more intense exercise or more minutes of exercise will help prevent this problem.”

(This article appeared in Diabetes Dialogue, Summer 2019)

Author: Elizabeth McCammon

Category Tags: Research;

Region: National

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