Nav: Home

Insecticides mimic melatonin, creating higher risk for diabetes

January 19, 2017

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Synthetic chemicals commonly found in insecticides and garden products bind to the receptors that govern our biological clocks, University at Buffalo researchers have found. The research suggests that exposure to these insecticides adversely affects melatonin receptor signaling, creating a higher risk for metabolic diseases such as diabetes.

Published online on Dec. 27 in Chemical Research in Toxicology, the research combined a big data approach, using computer modeling on millions of chemicals, with standard wet-laboratory experiments. It was funded by a grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Disruptions in human circadian rhythms are known to put people at higher risk for diabetes and other metabolic diseases but the mechanism involved is not well-understood.

"This is the first report demonstrating how environmental chemicals found in household products interact with human melatonin receptors," said Margarita L. Dubocovich, PhD, senior author on the paper and SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB.

"No one was thinking that the melatonin system was affected by these compounds, but that's what our research shows," she said.

The current research focuses on two chemicals, carbaryl, the third most widely used insecticide in the U.S. but which is illegal in several countries, and carbofuran, the most toxic carbamate insecticide, which has been banned for applications on food crops for human consumption since 2009. It is still used in many countries, including Mexico and traces persist in food, plants and wildlife.

"We found that both insecticides are structurally similar to melatonin and that both showed affinity for the melatonin, MT2 receptors, that can potentially affect glucose homeostasis and insulin secretion," said Marina Popevska-Gorevski, co-author, now a scientist with Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, who worked in Dubocovich's lab while earning her master's degree at UB. "That means that exposure to them could put people at higher risk for diabetes and also affect sleeping patterns."

The results suggest that there is a need to assess environmental chemicals for their ability to disrupt circadian activity, something which is not currently being considered by federal regulators. The UB researchers are developing a rapid bioassay that might be able to assess environmental chemicals for this kind of activity.

The work is part of a larger effort by Dubocovich and her colleagues at UB to develop their Chem2Risk pipeline, combining UB's expertise in computational biology and melatonin receptor pharmacology.

"Our approach seamlessly integrates the screening of environmental chemicals through computer simulation, in vitro and in vivo techniques to gauge the risk these chemicals present for various disease end points," explained Raj Rajnarayanan, PhD, lead author and assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology at UB.

The UB database contains about four million chemicals reported to have some level of toxicity. "From those, we identified hundreds of thousands of compounds that had readily available chemical structures so that we could study them," Rajnarayanan explained. After grouping the chemicals in clusters according to their similarity, they found several with functional groups similar to melatonin.

Using predictive computational modeling and in vitro experiments with cells that express human melatonin receptors, they found that carbamates selectively interact with a melatonin receptor. That interaction can disrupt melatonin signaling and alter important regulatory processes in the body.

"By directly interacting with melatonin receptors in the brain and peripheral tissues, environmental chemicals, such as carbaryl, may disrupt key physiological processes leading to misaligned circadian rhythms, sleep patterns, and altered metabolic functions increasing the risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes and metabolic disorders," said Dubocovich.

For example, she explained, there is a fine balance between the release of insulin and glucose in the pancreas at very specific times of day, but if that balance becomes disrupted over a long period of time, there is a higher risk of developing diabetes.

Dubocovich is an internationally renowned authority on the brain hormone melatonin and how melatonin receptors are regulated. Her work has significantly boosted the scientific understanding of how melatonin impacts circadian rhythms and human health in general, including sleep disorders, metabolic disease and drug addiction.

Popovska-Gorevski presented preliminary findings on this work at the 2014 Experimental Biology meeting in San Diego, receiving a Best Abstract Award from the Toxicology Division of the American Society for Pharmaceutical and Experimental Therapeutics and a Best Poster Award from the Upstate New York Pharmacology Society.
-end-


University at Buffalo

Related Diabetes Articles:

The role of vitamin A in diabetes
There has been no known link between diabetes and vitamin A -- until now.
Can continuous glucose monitoring improve diabetes control in patients with type 1 diabetes who inject insulin
Two studies in the Jan. 24/31 issue of JAMA find that use of a sensor implanted under the skin that continuously monitors glucose levels resulted in improved levels in patients with type 1 diabetes who inject insulin multiple times a day, compared to conventional treatment.
Complications of type 2 diabetes affect quality of life, care can lead to diabetes burnout
T2D Lifestyle, a national survey by Health Union of more than 400 individuals experiencing type 2 diabetes (T2D), reveals that patients not only struggle with commonly understood complications, but also numerous lesser known ones that people do not associate with diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes and obesity -- what do we really know?
Social and economic factors have led to a dramatic rise in type 2 diabetes and obesity around the world.
A better way to predict diabetes
An international team of researchers has discovered a simple, accurate new way to predict which women with gestational diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes after delivery.
The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology: Older Americans with diabetes living longer without disability, US study shows
Older Americans with diabetes born in the 1940s are living longer and with less disability performing day to day tasks than those born 10 years earlier, according to new research published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal.
Reverse your diabetes -- and you can stay diabetes-free long-term
A new study from Newcastle University, UK, has shown that people who reverse their diabetes and then keep their weight down remain free of diabetes.
New cause of diabetes
Although insulin-producing cells are found in the endocrine tissue of the pancreas, a new mouse study suggests that abnormalities in the exocrine tissue could cause cell non-autonomous effects that promotes diabetes-like symptoms.
The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology: Reducing sugar content in sugar-sweetened drinks by 40 percent over 5 years could prevent 1.5 million cases of overweight and obesity in the UK and 300,000 cases of diabetes
A new study published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal suggests that reducing sugar content in sugar sweetened drinks (including fruit juices) in the UK by 40 percent over five years, without replacing them with any artificial sweeteners, could prevent 500,000 cases of overweight and 1 million cases of obesity, in turn preventing around 300,000 cases of type 2 diabetes, over two decades.
Breastfeeding lowers risk of type 2 diabetes following gestational diabetes
Women with gestational diabetes who consistently and continuously breastfeed from the time of giving birth are half as likely to develop type 2 diabetes within two years after delivery, according to a study from Kaiser Permanente published today in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Related Diabetes Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#529 Do You Really Want to Find Out Who's Your Daddy?
At least some of you by now have probably spit into a tube and mailed it off to find out who your closest relatives are, where you might be from, and what terrible diseases might await you. But what exactly did you find out? And what did you give away? In this live panel at Awesome Con we bring in science writer Tina Saey to talk about all her DNA testing, and bioethicist Debra Mathews, to determine whether Tina should have done it at all. Related links: What FamilyTreeDNA sharing genetic data with police means for you Crime solvers embraced...