Stem cell research uncovers mechanism for type 2 diabetes

February 12, 2009,

Taking clues from their stem cell research, investigators at the University of California San Diego (UC San Diego) and Burnham Institute for Medical Research (Burnham) have discovered that a signaling pathway involved in normal pancreatic development is also associated with type 2 diabetes. Their findings, published online January 9 in Experimental Diabetes Research, could provide a potential new target for therapy.

Pamela Itkin-Ansari, Ph.D., assistant adjunct professor at the UC San Diego School of Medicine and Burnham; Fred Levine, M.D., Ph.D., professor and director of the Sanford Children's Health Research Center at Burnham, and colleagues showed that the Wnt signaling pathway is up-regulated in insulin producing cells of pancreases from adults with type 2 diabetes.

"It is now clear that progenitor cells, with the capacity to become insulin producing cells, reside in the adult pancreas," said Dr. Itkin-Ansari. "The key to harnessing those cells to treat diabetes is to understand the signaling pathways that are active in the pancreas under both normal and disease conditions. In the course of that research we found that Wnt signaling activity, which plays a critical role in the development of the pancreas, re-emerges in type 2 diabetes."

The Wnt signaling pathway - a series of protein interactions that control several genes -plays a role in normal development, as well as cancer, in many tissues. In this study, the scientists compared the expression of different proteins in the Wnt pathway in the pancreas from adults with type 2 diabetes and those from healthy individuals. The researchers discovered that cells from those without the disease had low levels of beta-catenin, a protein that enters cell nuclei and activates certain genes. Beta cells from people with type 2 diabetes had increased levels of the protein.

Activation of the Wnt pathway also up-regulates the expression of c-myc, which has been implicated in the destruction of insulin-producing beta cells. Significantly, Wnt signaling was also apparent in obese mice well before they developed symptoms, indicating that Wnt may be an important factor leading to Type 2 diabetes.

More information: The publication can be found at www.hindawi.com/GetArticle.asp … =10.1155/2008/728763

Source: Burnham Institute

Explore further: Molecule produced by fat cells reduces obesity and diabetes in mice

Related Stories

Molecule produced by fat cells reduces obesity and diabetes in mice

January 15, 2018
UC San Francisco researchers have discovered a new biological pathway in fat cells that could explain why some people with obesity are at high risk for metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes. The new findings—demonstrated ...

Reduced sunlight may contribute to winter weight gain

January 10, 2018
We may have a new reason, in addition to vitamin D generation, to bask in a little sunshine.

Diabetic blindness caused and reversed "trapped" immune cells in rodent retinas

January 3, 2018
Johns Hopkins researchers have discovered a cell signaling pathway in mice that triggers vision loss in patients with diabetic retinopathy and retinal vein occlusion – diseases characterized by the closure of blood vessels ...

Commonalities in late stages of inherited blinding diseases suggest targets for therapy

December 20, 2017
Gene therapy holds promise for treating a variety of diseases, including some inherited blinding conditions. But for a gene therapy to be effective, one must know the precise gene responsible for a given individual's disorder ...

Researchers identify a key nutrient sensor in the mTOR pathway that links nutrient availability to cell growth

November 10, 2017
To survive and grow, a cell must properly assess the resources available and couple that with its growth and metabolism—a misstep in that calculus can potentially cause cell death or dysfunction. At the crux of these decisions ...

Immune cell policing offers insights into cancer, autoimmune disease

November 6, 2017
Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are the traffic cops of the immune system. They instruct other types of immune cells on when to stop and when to go. Learning how to direct the activity of Tregs has important implications for improving ...

Recommended for you

Study reveals how MRSA infection compromises lymphatic function

January 17, 2018
Infections of the skin or other soft tissues with the hard-to-treat MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria appear to permanently compromise the lymphatic system, which is crucial to immune system function. ...

Fresh approach to tuberculosis vaccine offers better protection

January 17, 2018
A unique platform that resulted in a promising HIV vaccine has also led to a new, highly effective vaccine against tuberculosis that is moving toward testing in humans.

New study validates clotting risk factors in chronic kidney disease

January 17, 2018
In late 2017, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) discovered and published (Science Translational Medicine, (9) 417, Nov 2017) a potential treatment target to prevent chronic kidney disease (CKD) ...

Newly-discovered TB blood signal provides early warning for at-risk patients

January 17, 2018
Tuberculosis can be detected in people with HIV infection via a unique blood signal before symptoms appear, according to a new study by researchers from the Crick, Imperial College London and the University of Cape Town.

New study offers insights on genetic indicators of COPD risk

January 16, 2018
Researchers have discovered that genetic variations in the anatomy of the lungs could serve as indicators to help identify people who have low, but stable, lung function early in life, and those who are particularly at risk ...

Previous influenza virus exposures enhance susceptibility in another influenza pandemic

January 16, 2018
While past exposure to influenza A viruses often builds immunity to similar, and sometimes different, strains of the virus, Canadian researchers are calling for more attention to exceptions to that rule.

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.