The brain may have a previously unrecognized role in type 2 diabetes, a paper published online in Nature, suggests. Glucose-sensitive neurons may be impaired - a finding that has therapeutic implications.
It is already known that a group of nerve cells called pro-opiomelanocortin neurons are excited by glucose, but the significance of this finding has been unclear. Bradford B. Lowell and colleagues now show that mice with impaired pro-opiomelanocortin neurons develop glucose intolerance, and demonstrate that the same cells are also defective in mice with obesity-induced type 2 diabetes.
The results suggest that an abnormality in the brain's ability to sense glucose may contribute to type 2 diabetes. This problem probably coexists alongside the disease's better known features - dysfunctional insulin-secreting pancreatic beta cells and an impaired ability of insulin to act on target tissues. The authors further show that the mitochondrial uncoupling protein 2 is somehow involved in glucose insensitivity in the brain.
Bradford B. Lowell (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center & Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature press release.
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