Research shows Type-2 diabetes may have an immune system link

April 18, 2011 by Bob Yirka report

(PhysOrg.com) -- New research led by the twins Daniel and Shawn Winer, both of the University of Toronto, in conjunction with Lei Shen, research assistant at Stanford, has shown, in a paper published in Nature Medicine, a possible link between immune cell attacks and fat cell insulin resistance, the underlying cause of type-2 diabetes.

Building on work done by Edgar Engleman, of Stanford, (the Winder’s were both students of his and Lei Shen is his research assistant) the researchers put a group of mice on a high fat diet and then after six weeks gave several of the mice a drug called anti-CD20, which in effect kills certain types of immune cells. The mice that did not get the drug all developed , as expected, while the mice that did, did not.

The researchers believe that when too much fat accumulates in the body, particularly around the mid-section, the fat cells reach a point where they start to run out of room, and so become inflamed which leads to some of them dying. When that happens, the body responds as if from an external threat and sends in the immune cells to deal with the problem. These antibodies then begin to attack the fat cells, which causes them to become insulin resistant. And that is the very definition of .

Unlike type-1 diabetes, which researchers have known for quite some time has an immune system component, the type-2 version has been thought to be a metabolic disorder, blamed solely on lifestyle choices. Now, with this new research, new types of treatment will likely emerge for treating the immunity response, rather than just the insulin resistance. One step in this direction involved another part of the study, where the team took blood samples from 32 obese volunteers. They found that half of them had insulin resistance, and the other half didn’t, which suggests a heredity factor in the immune system response as well. But it also suggests it might be possible to develop a vaccine that imitates the antibody properties of those who don’t develop resistance, for those who do.

Almost 26 million people in this country have diabetes, with the vast majority of those of the type-2 variety. It’s a condition that leads to other ailments such as blindness, heart disease and loss of limbs due to circulation problems. Any new research that might lead to a “cure” or at least a therapy to prevent the damage caused by , would be truly historic.

Explore further: Study helps clarify link between high-fat diet and type 2 diabetes

More information: B cells promote insulin resistance through modulation of T cells and production of pathogenic IgG antibodies, Nature Medicine (2011) doi:10.1038/nm.2353

Related Stories

Study helps clarify link between high-fat diet and type 2 diabetes

April 11, 2011
A diet high in saturated fat is a key contributor to type 2 diabetes, a major health threat worldwide. Several decades ago scientists noticed that people with type 2 diabetes have overly active immune responses, leaving their ...

Recommended for you

Hibernating ground squirrels provide clues to new stroke treatments

November 17, 2017
In the fight against brain damage caused by stroke, researchers have turned to an unlikely source of inspiration: hibernating ground squirrels.

Age and gut bacteria contribute to multiple sclerosis disease progression

November 17, 2017
Researchers at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School published a study suggesting that gut bacteria at young age can contribute to multiple sclerosis (MS) disease onset and progression.

Molecular guardian defends cells, organs against excess cholesterol

November 16, 2017
A team of researchers at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health has illuminated a critical player in cholesterol metabolism that acts as a molecular guardian in cells to help maintain cholesterol levels within a safe, ...

Prototype ear plug sensor could improve monitoring of vital signs

November 16, 2017
Scientists have developed a sensor that fits in the ear, with the aim of monitoring the heart, brain and lungs functions for health and fitness.

Ancient enzyme could boost power of liquid biopsies to detect and profile cancers

November 16, 2017
Scientists are developing a set of medical tests called liquid biopsies that can rapidly detect the presence of cancers, infectious diseases and other conditions from only a small blood sample. Researchers at The University ...

FDA to crack down on risky stem cell offerings

November 16, 2017
U.S. health authorities announced plans Thursday to crack down on doctors pushing stem cell procedures that pose the gravest risks to patients amid an effort to police a burgeoning medical field that previously has received ...

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.