Epigenetic changes could explain type 2 diabetes

March 7, 2014

People with type 2 diabetes have epigenetic changes on their DNA that healthy individuals do not have. This has been shown in a major study by researchers at Lund University. The researchers also found epigenetic changes in a large number of genes that contribute to reduced insulin production.

"This shows that the risk of developing type 2 is not only genetic, but also epigenetic", said Charlotte Ling, who led the study.

Epigenetic changes occur as a result of factors including environment and lifestyle, and can affect the function of genes. Charlotte Ling and her colleagues have analysed insulin- producing cells of both healthy individuals and patients with type 2 diabetes. The analysis revealed in approximately 800 genes in those with type 2 diabetes. Over 100 of the genes also had altered expression and many of these could contribute to reduced insulin production. Reduced insulin production is one of the underlying causes of type 2 diabetes.

In order to work out which is the chicken and which is the egg, i.e. whether the epigenetic changes are a consequence of the disease or if the disease is a result of the changes, the researchers also investigated whether healthy individuals had epigenetic changes caused by age, BMI and raised .

"We were able to observe that a number of epigenetic changes had already taken place in healthy subjects as a result of age or high BMI, and were therefore able to conclude that these changes could contribute to the development of the disease", said Charlotte Ling. "Unlike genes that can't be changed, epigenetic changes are reversible", added Tasnim Dayeh, first author of the publication in PLOS Genetics.

Drugs that cause epigenetic changes have long been used in the treatment of cancer and epilepsy. The new survey changes the view of epigenetics in relation to diabetes, according to Charlotte Ling.

"It shows that epigenetics is of major significance for , and can help us to understand why people develop the condition. This also opens the way for the development of future drugs."

Explore further: New clues in hunt for heredity in type 2 diabetes

More information: PLoS Genet 10(3): e1004160. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1004160

Related Stories

New clues in hunt for heredity in type 2 diabetes

March 19, 2013
Type 2 diabetes has strong hereditary tendencies and the genes we are born with cannot be changed. However, new research from Lund University in Sweden shows that we can modify the function of the genes through the epigenetic ...

Epigenetic changes to fat cells following exercise

July 3, 2013
Exercise, even in small doses, changes the expression of our innate DNA. New research from Lund University in Sweden has described for the first time what happens on an epigenetic level in fat cells when we undertake physical ...

Smoking changes our genes

December 17, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—The fact that smoking means a considerable health risk is nowadays commonly accepted. New research findings from Uppsala University and Uppsala Clinical Research Center show that smoking alters several ...

Epigenetics: A new link between nutrition and cancer

January 13, 2014
In "Epigenetics: A New Link Between Nutrition and Cancer", a recent article from Nutrition and Cancer: An International Journal, a publication of Routledge, researchers explore the possible effects that diet can have on ...

BUSM researchers study epigenetic mechanisms of tumor metastasis for improved cancer therapy

October 30, 2013
A review article by researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) suggests that epigenetics may be a useful target to stop the growth, spread and relapse of cancer. The findings are published online in Volume ...

Recommended for you

Scientists discover a new way to treat type 2 diabetes

July 21, 2017
Medication currently being used to treat obesity is also proving to have significant health benefits for patients with type 2 diabetes. A new study published today in Molecular Metabolism explains how this therapeutic benefit ...

Alzheimer's drug cuts hallmark inflammation related to metabolic syndrome by 25 percent

July 20, 2017
An existing Alzheimer's medication slashes inflammation and insulin resistance in patients with metabolic syndrome, a potential therapeutic intervention for a highly dangerous condition affecting 30 percent of adults in the ...

Diabetes or its precursor affects 100 million Americans

July 19, 2017
Almost one-third of the US population—100 million people—either has diabetes or its precursor condition, known as pre-diabetes, said a government report Tuesday.

One virus may protect against type 1 diabetes, others may increase risk

July 11, 2017
Doctors can't predict who will develop type 1 diabetes, a chronic autoimmune disease in which the immune system destroys the cells needed to control blood-sugar levels, requiring daily insulin injections and continual monitoring.

Diabetes complications are a risk factor for repeat hospitalizations, study shows

July 7, 2017
For patients with diabetes, one reason for hospitalization and unplanned hospital readmission is severe dysglycemia (uncontrolled hyperglycemia - high blood sugar, or hypoglycemia - low blood sugar), says new research published ...

Researchers identify promising target to protect bone in patients with diabetes

July 7, 2017
Utilizing metabolomics research techniques, NYU Dentistry researchers investigated the underlying biochemical activity and signaling within the bone marrow of hyperglycemic mice with hopes of reducing fracture risks of diabetics

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.