Protein-clearing mechanism linked to Type 2 diabetes

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The buildup of a specific protein – and the body's inability to eliminate that protein – could be linked to Type 2 diabetes, new research from UCLA suggests.

People with Type 2 diabetes have excessive amounts of a protein called islet amyloid polypeptide (IAPP). Over time, the accumulation of this protein is linked to the loss of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, found that people without Type 2 diabetes are able to eliminate this type of protein buildup through the process of autophagy – where degraded or compromised cells are swept away and disposed of by the body.

Yet in people with Type 2 diabetes, this process doesn't seem to work properly. As a result, more pancreatic beta cells are destroyed and blood sugar regulation is compromised.

New treatments may protect beta cells

According to Safia Costes, study co-author, previous studies have shown that autophagy is a critical part of beta cell function.

"Those studies, however, were not conducted to address the role of this process in the regulation of the amyloidogenic protein, which is an important contributor to Type 2 diabetes," Costes said.

Through further research, the authors hope to understand how different cellular mechanisms are responsible for beta cell destruction – and how to protect these cells.

"This would aid the development of the next generation of treatments as well as combination therapies for Type 2 diabetes," Costes said.

Source: UCLA
Image credit: tigger11th /


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