Does Treating Diabetes Start in the Gut?

A drug that is often used to treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) was found to prevent type 2 diabetes in mice, giving researchers hope that gut-focused therapies could be used on humans with insulin resistance.

A team from the Toronto General Research Institute (TGRI) found that immune cells in abdominal fat triggered the release of "pro-inflammatory" compounds, which decrease insulin sensitivity. Their latest study also found that mice who were fed a high-fat, high-calorie diet had more pro-inflammatory immune cells than mice who ate normally.

People who have type 2 diabetes due to obesity or dietary habits may incur damage to the bowel wall, the researchers explained, which contributes to the mechanisms that cause insulin resistance.

Blocking pro-inflammatory immune cells

By treating obese mice with mesalamine, a drug used to manage IBD, the researchers were able to reverse insulin resistance and lower blood sugar to normal levels.

"By using this drug, we found that we could prevent type 2 diabetes in mice," said Dan Winer, co-senior author of the study.

Winer emphasized the results are important because the immune system can now be considered the "new player" when it comes to blood sugar control – one that may come with minimal side effects.

"If this works in humans, it could change the whole field of diabetes prevention and treatment," Winer said.

Source: University Health Network
Image courtesy of Ohmega1982/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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