Researchers uncover gene's role in type 1 diabetes

November 7, 2007

Researchers at the University of Virginia Health System have identified an enzyme thought to be an important instigator of the inner-body conflict that causes Type 1 diabetes. A chronic condition that affects nearly three million American children and adults, Type 1 diabetes is more severe than Type 2. Type 1 diabetes, also called autoimmune diabetes, arises when the body’s infection-fighting white blood cells start destroying the beta-cells that produce insulin in the pancreas.

To shed light on how this conflict begins, UVa researchers focused on a single gene, 12/15-lipoxygenase (12/15-LO). This gene leads to the production of the enzyme, which appears to have an important role in the activation of white blood cells in the pancreas.

Researchers developed non-obese diabetic female mice to serve as a model of Type 1 diabetes. After turning off the 12/15-LO gene in study mice, they discovered that these mice without the enzyme were 97 percent less likely to develop diabetes than mice that had normal levels of it, according to the study, published online in the journal Diabetes (to be published in print in February 2008).

“This research is exciting because it advances our knowledge of a new gene that is involved in causing Type 1 diabetes and could pave the way for new treatments to prevent or reverse this increasingly prevalent disease,” said Dr. Jerry L. Nadler, who is chief of the UVa Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism.

UVa researchers also discovered that study mice that did not have the 12/15-LO gene and remained non-diabetic demonstrated better glucose tolerance than non-diabetic NOD mice that were matched for age. (Worse glucose tolerance is an indication of having a pre-diabetes condition). The same group of study mice also had improved beta cell mass and less severe insulitis than their non-diabetic NOD counterparts.

Insulitis is a change in the islet cells that includes a high-fluid volume and too many white blood cells. While white blood cells normally help to fight off infections, they can cause damage over time when they infiltrate the islet cells of the pancreas.

“Our findings have two practical implications,” said co-author Marcia McDuffie, professor of Microbiology at UVa. “First, they help us to understand the complicated process that produces self-destructive white blood cells. This knowledge may be useful in predicting which children may be at risk for developing Type 1 diabetes before significant damage has occurred in the islets. Second, we may be able to design drugs targeting this enzyme that may help to prevent Type 1 diabetes in people at risk for the disease and also to prevent recurrence of disease in transplanted islets.”

Type 1 diabetes requires insulin injections, because the body cannot produce insulin on its own.

Source: University of Virginia Health System

Explore further: Druglike molecules produced by gut bacteria can affect gut, immune health

Related Stories

Druglike molecules produced by gut bacteria can affect gut, immune health

November 23, 2017
Stanford researchers found that manipulating the gut microbe Clostridium sporogenes changed levels of molecules in the bloodstreams of mice and, in turn, affected their health.

Enterovirus vaccine prevents virus-induced diabetes in a T1D experimental model

November 21, 2017
Scientists at the University of Tampere (Finland) and the Karolinska Institutet (Sweden) have demonstrated that an enterovirus vaccine can protect against virus-induced diabetes in a mouse model for type 1 diabetes.

Insulin pill may delay type 1 diabetes in some

November 21, 2017
(HealthDay)—It's often said that timing is everything. New research suggests this may be true when giving an insulin pill to try to prevent or delay type 1 diabetes.

Pre-diabetes discovery marks step towards precision medicine

November 20, 2017
Researchers from the University of Sydney's Charles Perkins Centre have identified three specific molecules that accurately indicate insulin resistance, or pre-diabetes - a major predictor of metabolic syndrome, the collection ...

Controlling diabetes with your phone might be possible someday

November 21, 2017
Think about this. You have diabetes, are trying to control your insulin levels and instead of taking a pill or giving yourself an injection, you click an app on your phone that tells your pancreas to bring blood sugar levels ...

Study finds that heart failure is more fatal in patients with type 2 diabetes

November 17, 2017
A new study has found that heart failure patients with pre-existing type 2 diabetes have higher hospitalisation and death rates, but that keeping blood sugars balanced can help lower the risk almost to that of heart failure ...

Recommended for you

New approach to studying chromosomes' centers may reveal link to Down syndrome and more

November 20, 2017
Some scientists call it the "final frontier" of our DNA—even though it lies at the center of every X-shaped chromosome in nearly every one of our cells.

Genome editing enhances T-cells for cancer immunotherapy

November 20, 2017
Researchers at Cardiff University have found a way to boost the cancer-destroying ability of the immune system's T-cells, offering new hope in the fight against a wide range of cancers.

A math concept from the engineering world points to a way of making massive transcriptome studies more efficient

November 17, 2017
To most people, data compression refers to shrinking existing data—say from a song or picture's raw digital recording—by removing some data, but not so much as to render it unrecognizable (think MP3 or JPEG files). Now, ...

Genetic mutation in extended Amish family in Indiana protects against aging and increases longevity (Update)

November 15, 2017
The first genetic mutation that appears to protect against multiple aspects of biological aging in humans has been discovered in an extended family of Old Order Amish living in the vicinity of Berne, Indiana, report Northwestern ...

US scientists try first gene editing in the body

November 15, 2017
Scientists for the first time have tried editing a gene inside the body in a bold attempt to permanently change a person's DNA to try to cure a disease.

Genetic variant prompts cells to store fat, fueling obesity

November 13, 2017
Obesity is often attributed to a simple equation: People are eating too much and exercising too little. But evidence is growing that at least some of the weight gain that plagues modern humans is predetermined. New research ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.