Elevated Resting and Postprandial Digestive Proteolytic Activity in Peripheral Blood of Individuals With Type-2 Diabetes Mellitus, With Uncontrolled Cleavage of Insulin Receptors

Augusta E. Modestino, Elaine A. Skowronski, Chris Pruitt, Pam R. Taub, Karen Herbst, Geert W. Schmid-Schönbein, Michael (Mike) Heller, Paul J. Mills

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: To examine resting and postprandial peripheral protease activity in healthy controls and individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and pre-T2DM. Methods: Individuals with T2DM or pre-T2DM and healthy controls (mean age 55.8 years) were studied before and for a span of 300 minutes following a single high-calorie McDonald’s breakfast. Metalloproteases-2/-9 (MMP-2/-9), elastase, and trypsin activities were assessed in whole blood before and following the meal using a novel high-precision electrophoretic platform. Also assessed were circulating levels of inflammatory biomarkers and insulin receptor density on peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) in relationship to protease activity. Results: Premeal MMP-2/-9 and elastase activity levels in T2DM and in pre-T2DM participants were significantly elevated as compared to controls. The T2DM group showed a significant increase in elastase activity 15 minutes after the meal; elastase activity continued to increase to the 30-minute time point (p < 0.01). In control participants, MMP-2/-9, elastase, and trypsin were significantly increased at 15 minutes after the meal (p < 0.05) and returned to premeal values within a period of approximately 30 to 60 minutes post meal. PBMCs incubated for 1 hour with plasma from T2DM and pre-T2DM participants had significantly lower levels of insulin receptor density compared to those incubated with plasma from control participants (p < 0.001). Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that individuals with T2DM and pre-T2DM have higher resting systemic protease activity than nonsymptomatic controls. A single high-calorie/high-carbohydrate meal results in further elevations of protease activity in the systemic circulation of T2DM and pre-T2DM, as well as in healthy controls. The protease activity in turn can lead to a downregulation of insulin receptor density, potentially supporting a state of insulin resistance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of the American College of Nutrition
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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