Type 2 diabetes link to inflammation

Inflammation (the body’s attempt to heal itself in response to harmful substances or irritants) has been linked to Type 2 diabetes and obesity for decades but the results of a recent study are linking it more closely than before. Researchers at the Department of Diabetes Complication Biology at Novo Nordisk in Malov, Denmark, recently learned that Type 2 diabetics have elevated levels of cytokines, a protein released in response to inflammation, especially inside fat tissue.

The study found that in mice, during the early stages of diabetes, a certain type of immune cell (the pathogen-fighting macrophage cell, which specializes in the removal of damaged cells from the body) invades the pancreas in response to the disease. The cells then flood the area with cytokines, which are linked to the loss of the precious insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.

“The study may provide novel insights allowing development of tailor-made anti-inflammatory based therapies reducing the burden of type 2 patients,” said Alexander Rosendahl, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the study, in a press release. “These novel treatments may prove to complement existing therapies such as insulin and GLP-1 analogs.”

In the study, diabetic mice had significantly more inflammation-related changes compared to the healthy mice. “The more researchers learn about obesity and Type 2 diabetes, the more it appears that inflammation plays a critical role in the progression and severity of these conditions,” said John Wherry, Ph.D., deputy editor of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, where the research appeared. “The knowledge gained from such studies offers hope that new immune-based therapies could be developed to mitigate the severity of such diseases.”

The new research appeared in the January 2014 issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology. Additional reporting by Brenda Neugent, Diabetes Health.

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