A surprising study discovered antibodies associated with insulin resistance, suggesting that type 2 diabetes might be an immune disorder rather than a metabolic disorder, much like type 1 diabetes. More research needs to be done in the hope of developing a diabetes vaccine.
Doctors and researchers have known for a while that excess weight, diet and lack of exercise can all be contributing factors in the development of type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. Unlike type 1 diabetes, which is known as an immune disease, type 2 diabetes is generally considered a metabolic disorder, and is attributed to poor lifestyle choices. A new study shifts some of the responsibility for the development of their condition away from the patients by shedding light on other possible influences.
For this study, the results of which were published in Nature Medicine, researchers tested blood samples of 32 obese people, and found that the half who had insulin resistance had antibodies that were not present in the half who were obese but not insulin resistant. This suggests that type 2 diabetes may be an immune disorder, and that there is a possibility of developing a vaccine for the condition.
When fat developing in the abdomen runs out of space and becomes constricted the fat cells eventually die, and the immune system sends in cells to clean up the dead fat cells. Among the immune system response cells are T-cells and B-cells, which are responsible for remembering threats to the body and creating antibodies. The antibodies then attack the fat cells, which makes them insulin resistant. This immune response against fat cells is also connected to fatty liver disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
The study also tested the effects on mice of an immune-modifying drug called anti-CD20. Mice were fed a diet that was 60% fat, and after six and seven weeks some of the mice received the drug. The mice who were given the drug had normal blood sugar levels, and did not develop insulin resistance, whereas the control mice did become insulin resistant. However, anti-CD20 can have serious side effects and can negatively affect the immune system, so it is likely that it will not be used any time soon as a diabetes medication.
While the findings of this study are promising, more research needs to be done. The mice and human subjects were all male, so it is not known whether the results apply to females. Currently, type 2 diabetes is treated first with lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise, sometimes combined with oral diabetes medication. Over time, many type 2 diabetics require insulin injections to control their blood sugar.
Lena Grant researches and writes about subjects of interest to diabetics. She recommends the online Canadian pharmacy Big Mountain Drugs as a reliable and affordable source of diabetes medications, including the popular long acting insulin, Lantus SoloSTAR injection pen.
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