University of Virginia Researchers Awarded $3.4 Million to Study Impact of Extracellular Vesicles and Exercise on Type 2 Diabetes

Uta Erdbrügger, MD, an associate professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Nephrology, and colleagues were awarded a five-year, $3.5 million NIH-NIDDK R01 grant titled “Insulin, Extracellular Vesicles, Exercise and Vascular Function in Type 2 Diabetes.  Dr. Erdbrügger serves as a co-principal investigator on this grant together with Steven K. Malin, PhD, FACSM, an associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health at Rutgers University.

The Erdbrügger lab is studying Extracellular Vesicles (EVs) as novel intercellular and interorgan messengers in kidney, hypertension and metabolic diseases. These submicron vesicles are released from all cells and carry valuable cargo such as protein and nucleic acid. There is growing interest in not only understanding the physiology of EVs as signaling particles, but also leveraging them as minimally invasive diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers and drug-delivery vehicles. Drs. Erdbrügger and Malin have studied the effect of exercise and insulin on circulating EVs in prediabetes and obesity. They have shown that low cardiorespiratory fitness is associated with higher EV counts in adults with obesity and that acute exercise decreases both fasting and insulin-stimulated EVs while improving vascular function in adults with obesity. Their new grant blends their expertise and is now studying the hypothesis that EVs mediate insulin induced vascular effects in Type 2 Diabetes. This work will provide new insight into insulin resistance, and potential mechanisms by which exercise reduces chronic disease risk. This work will also provide insight for addressing proteins, or “cargo”, within EVs that may mediate vascular insulin action such that individualized treatment plans may be developed in the future to correct cardiometabolic dysfunction.

Other collaborators on this grant are Brant Isakson, PhD, Robert M. Berne Cardiovascular Research Center UVA; Ankit Shah, MD, Rutgers University Department of Medicine; and Susmita Sahoo, PhD, Cardiovascular Research Center at Mount Sinai, NYC.

SourceUniversity of Virginia School of Medicine

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