‘Weak’ and ‘robust’ cells bonding boosts physique’s diabetes battle


Scientists have expanded our understanding of how “weak” cells connect with their more mature cellular counterparts to increase the body’s production of insulin and improve our understanding of the processes that lead to type 2 diabetes – a major global health problem.

Type 2 diabetes mellitus occurs when β cells cannot release enough insulin – a tightly controlled process in which hundreds of such cells have to be clustered together to coordinate their response to signals from foods like sugar, fat, and gut hormones.

An international team of researchers – led by scientists from the University of Birmingham – has found that immature β cells (PDX1LOW / MAFALOW) can overcome their relative deficiencies by working with “stronger” colleagues to drive insulin release.

The researchers publish their results today in Nature Communications, showing that subtle differences in levels of PDX1 and MAFA proteins (found only in β cells) and, in general, differences in the maturation of β cells contribute to how clusters of Cells known as islands function to produce insulin.

Corresponding author David Hodson, Professor of Cell Metabolism at the University of Birmingham, commented, “Our research shows that differences in the maturation of β-cells, as defined using PDX1 and MAFA levels, are across the island for Proper insulin release is required. An increase in the percentage of mature β-cells is associated with islet failure. It appears that, like society, the islet needs cells of all ages to function properly.

“By restoring the balance between immature and mature β-cells, islet function is restored under metabolic stress conditions – an excess of sugar and fat in the diet – and it is shown that both ‘weak’ and ‘strong’ β-cells are able to Can contribute to proper island function and insulin release.

“This is the first look that immature cells could help regulate insulin release on the islet. Our study shows a promising line of research that could be used to assess islet resistance in type 2 diabetes or in islet creation to raise in an island. ” Dish ‘for the purpose of transplant. “

Normally, mature and immature β-cells coexist within the adult islet and can be divided into subpopulations based on differences in their levels of specific genes and proteins. Immature β cells are generally considered to be malfunctioning when viewed alone as individual cells.

The researchers found that islets containing proportionally more PDX1HIGH and MAFAHIGH-β cells showed defects in cell function (metabolism, ion flows and insulin secretion). The team believes that maintaining a mix of “strong” and “weak” β cells is important for effective insulin production.


For more information, interviews or a frozen copy of the research paper, please contact Tony Moran, International Communications Manager, University of Birmingham on +44 (0) 782 783 2312 or t.moran@bham.ac.uk. Outside business hours +44 (0) 7789 921 165.

Notes for editors

* The University of Birmingham is among the world’s top 100 institutions. His work brings people to Birmingham from around the world, including researchers, teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.

* ‘PDX1LOW MAFALOW β cells contribute to islet function and insulin release’ – Daniela Nasteska, Nicholas HF Fine, Fiona B. Ashford, Federica Cuozzo, Katrina Viloria, Gabrielle Smith, Aisha Dahir, Peter WJ Dawson, Yu-Chiang Lai, Aimée Bastidas -Ponce, Mostafa Bakhti, Guy A. Rutter, Remi Fiancette, Rita Nano, Lorenzo Piemonti, Heiko Lickert, Qiao Zhou, Ildem Akerman and David J. Hodson are published in Nature Communications.

* Participating universities and institutions include: University of Birmingham, UK; University of Nottingham, UK; Birmingham Health Partners, UK; Helmholtz Center Munich, Germany; German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD), Neuherberg; Technical University of Munich; Imperial College London; Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; San Raffaele Diabetes Research Institute, University of Alberta, Canada; IRCCS Ospedale, Italy; University of San Raffaele, Milan, Italy; and Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY, USA.

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