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Evidence suggests Type 2 diabetes may be inflammatory disease

Category: Hormones and Metabolism

The risk of an individual developing Type 2 diabetes increases along with weight gain. The most common form of diabetes, researchers from Denmark recently revealed evidence that Type 2 may be an inflammatory disease.

Published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, the study's scientists conducted lab tests on mice and discovered that a specific type of immune cell enters the diabetic tissue of the pancreas during the early stages of the disease. Once they have invaded the organ, these cells produce pro-inflammatory proteins called cytokines, which contribute to the destruction of beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. This breakdown leads to the development of diabetes.

The researchers compared healthy mice to obese ones that had developed diabetes. The obese mice were studied from a young age when diabetes was in early development until an age when multiple organs began to show symptoms of systemic complication. Under this observation, the scientists noticed the presence of the immune cell macrophages around the beta cells of the spleen and pancreas.

"The study may provide novel insights allowing development of tailor-made anti-inflammatory based therapies reducing the burden of Type 2 patients. These novel treatments may prove to complement existing therapies such as insulin and GLP-1 analogues," said Alexander Rosendahl, Ph.D., a member of the research team from the Department of Diabetes Complication Biology at Novo Nordisk A/S in Denmark.

This kind of research shows the significance inflammation has in the expansion and severity of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. The hope is that the findings from this study will lead to new immune-based therapies that will help manage the symptoms of diabetes and improve the quality of care for patients.

Learning about Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 causes the body to either not produce enough insulin or ignore insulin intake. When people eat, sugars and starches are broken down into glucose, which insulin uses to create energy for the body. When glucose builds up in the blood and does not move to the cells, organs can begin to lose productivity. Additionally, the body's cells may become starved for energy.

According to the American Diabetes Association, Type 2 accounts for 90 to 95 percent of diabetes cases in the U.S. Typically, management of the disease calls for specific meal plans and taking diabetic medicines, as well as staying physically active.

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