Biochemical 'fingerprints' reveal diabetes progression

August 21, 2017
Credit: Umea University

Researchers from Umeå University in Sweden describe a new method to study biochemical changes that occur in the pancreas during the development of diabetes. The method, recently published in Scientific Reports, is based on molecular spectroscopy and can be used to extract biochemical profiles (or "fingerprints") containing information about disease progression. The method could facilitate improved understanding of the mechanistic processes on molecular and cellular levels that are key to the development of diabetes.

The method uses vibrational microspectroscopic technology, including Fourier Transform Infrared (FT-IR) and Raman microspectroscopy. Different compounds have unique molecular vibrations that can be detected using infrared light or laser. These vibrations contain information about the sample's chemical composition, including molecular characteristics, prevalence and structure. It is usually very difficult to interpret the extremely complex results and vast amount of data that this kind of assessment produces. By using advanced statistical methods, researchers can filter out "noise" such as, for example, natural variations. This results in a better overview and allows researchers to focus on the important factors.

"This method is well-suited for studying biological samples, since it does not damage the sample, does not require external markers such as antibody labels, and can be used in microscopy settings. The method can for example be used to determine which cell types are affected in a certain tissue, where and how," says András Gorzsás, researcher at the Department of Chemistry and co-author of the article.

The is a key organ for the development of diabetes, one of the greatest health issues in the world. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the number of individuals with diabetes is expected to rise from today's 415 million to more than 640 million by 2040. Despite the global prevalence of diabetes, researchers had limited methods to study directly in the pancreas.

Filtering out noise in complex data provides overview

In the Scientific Reports article, the researchers describe how a method for multivariate statistical analysis enables them to handle multiple variables simultaneously and thus analyze complex data from vibrational microspectroscopy of the pancreas. Using this method, which until now has been used primarily to study plant tissues, the researchers show that it is possible to discover previously unknown biochemical changes in the pancreas during disease development. In addition, previously known changes in the tissue may also be detected, but at even earlier stages of compared to what has been described by other techniques.

"By using this method we can create biochemical fingerprints of all changes occurring in the pancreas. The fingerprints inform us of what cell type we are looking at, which animal model it comes from and how far the disease has progressed. These fingerprints are so precise that even unknown samples can be classified if there is available reference material," says Ulf Ahlgren, Professor of Molecular Medicine and co-author of the article.

A non-destructive technique

The method can be used to analyze both mice and human pancreas from the outside of the organ, i.e. without the need to obtain tissue samples. Moreover, the researchers demonstrate in a transplantation experiment that pancreatic tissue (so called Islets of Langerhans) may be studied in vivo (i.e. in the living organism). In addition to studying mechanistic aspects of diabetes development and manifestation, the researchers hope that the method can be used to develop better prognostic and diagnostic tools for diabetes.

"I believe this possibility to study pancreatic tissue and especially the biochemistry of the insulin-producing Islets of Langerhans in the living organism is a very interesting opportunity for research. The method could prove useful for example to study the direct effects of anti-diabetic therapies on the biochemical composition and function of insulin-producing cells" says Ulf Ahlgren.

Explore further: Method offers better conditions for studying insulin-producing cells

More information: Christoffer Nord et al. Biochemical profiling of diabetes disease progression by multivariate vibrational microspectroscopy of the pancreas, Scientific Reports (2017). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-07015-z

Related Stories

Method offers better conditions for studying insulin-producing cells

August 10, 2017
Researchers have established a unique method enabling them to study the function of insulin-producing cells under conditions that are similar to those in humans. This can pave the way to development of new medicines for the ...

3-D visualization of the pancreas—new tool in diabetes research

March 14, 2017
Umeå researchers have created datasets that map the three-dimensional distribution and volume of the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. The wealth of visual and quantitative information may serve as powerful reference ...

Beta cells under fire

June 7, 2017
Type 2 diabetes causes pathological changes in the beta cells. Scientists have successfully depicted the processes on the basis of the metabolome and proteome for the first time. Their work has been published in Cell Metabolism.

The best place to treat type 1 diabetes might be just under your skin

August 14, 2017
A group of U of T researchers have demonstrated that the space under our skin might be an optimal location to treat type 1 diabetes (T1D).

Unique molecular atlas of pancreas produced

September 23, 2016
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have managed to produce the first molecular map of the genes that are active in the various cells of the human pancreas. They have also revealed differences in genetic activity between ...

Insulin-secreting cells report on insulin resistance

February 22, 2016
Diabetes researchers at Sweden's Karolinska Institutet have developed a novel technique that makes it possible to monitor insulin resistance in a non-invasive manner over time in mice. The new method, presented in the journal ...

Recommended for you

Diabetes pill might replace injection to control blood sugar

October 17, 2017
(HealthDay)— An injectable class of diabetes medication—called glucagon-like peptide-1 or GLP-1—might one day be available in pill form, research suggests.

Skimping on sleep may contribute to gestational diabetes

October 17, 2017
The amount of time spent sleeping in the United States has dropped significantly in the past twenty years with almost a quarter of women and 16 percent of men experiencing insufficient sleep. Now, a new study has found that ...

Artificial pancreas performs well in clinical trial

October 16, 2017
During more than 60,000 hours of combined use of a novel artificial pancreas system, participants in a 12-week, multi-site clinical trial showed significant improvements in two key measures of well-being in people living ...

Omega-6 fats may help prevent type 2 diabetes

October 11, 2017
The risk of developing type 2 diabetes could be significantly reduced by eating a diet rich in omega-6 polyunsaturated fats, a new study suggests.

Where there's type 1 diabetes, celiac disease may follow

October 10, 2017
(HealthDay)—Parents of young children with type 1 diabetes need to be on the lookout for symptoms of another autoimmune condition—celiac disease, new research suggests.

Type 1 diabetes and the microbiota—MAIT cells as biomarkers and new therapeutic targets

October 10, 2017
Together with colleagues from AP-HP Necker–Enfants Malades Hospital in Paris, scientists from the Cochin Institute (CNRS / INSERM / Paris Descartes University) have discovered that the onset of type 1 diabetes is preceded ...

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.