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Active young adults with Type 1 diabetes have muscle complications: Study

April 18, 2018

Toronto, ON (April 18, 2018) - A new study from McMaster and York universities has found that poor muscle health may be a complication of Type 1 diabetes, even among active twenty-somethings.

The research team analyzed muscle biopsies of young adults with and without Type 1 diabetes who exceed Diabetes Canada's recommended weekly levels for physical activity.

The researchers found structural and functional changes in the power generation parts of the cell, or mitochondria, of those with diabetes. Not only were the mitochondria less capable of producing energy for the muscle, they were also releasing high amounts of toxic reactive oxygen species, related to cell damage.

These changes could result in reduced metabolism, greater difficulty controlling blood glucose and, if left unchecked, an accelerated rate of developing disability. The study findings add poor muscle health to the list of better-known complications of Type 1 diabetes, including nerve damage, heart disease and kidney disorders.

"Now we know that even active people with diabetes have changes in their muscles that could impair their ability to manage blood sugar," said Thomas Hawke, corresponding author of the study and a professor of pathology and molecular medicine at McMaster. "Knowing in the long term that this could contribute to faster development of disability, we can start to address it early on."

Christopher Perry, study co-senior author and an associate professor in kinesiology and health sciences and the Muscle Health Research Centre at York University, added: "Skeletal muscle is our largest metabolic organ and is the primary tissue for clearing blood sugar after eating a meal, so we need to keep muscle as healthy as possible."

With regular aerobic exercise, the amount of mitochondria in muscle increases, thereby helping muscle cells to use more glucose and become more efficient. Given this new data, Perry added that their study suggests that current guidelines for Type 1 diabetics may also need to be revised.

"We believe these dysfunctional mitochondria are what's causing the muscle to not use glucose properly and to also damage muscle cells in the process. We were surprised to see the muscles were this unhealthy in young adults with Type 1 diabetes who were regularly active."

Researchers say while further study is needed, revising evidence-based exercise guidelines, specific for those with Type 1 diabetes, may be required to keep them in the best health.
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The paper was published today in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes. The study may be found at the link below.

The team included researchers at York University, the University of Windsor and the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases as well as McMaster's departments of pathology and molecular medicine, pediatrics and kinesiology. Both Hawke and Perry are on the Board of Directors for the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology.

The study was funded in part by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, and the James H. Cummings Foundation.

For full article see: http://www.diabetologia-journal.org/files/Monaco.pdf

NOTE: THE ABOVE LINK IS FOR JOURNALISTS ONLY. IF YOU WISH TO PROVIDE A LINK TO THIS PAPER FOR YOUR READERS, PLEASE USE THE FOLLOWING, WHICH WILL GO LIVE WHEN THE EMBARGO LIFTS:

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00125-018-4602-6

Media contacts:


Veronica McGuire, Media Relations, Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University 905-525-9140, ext. 22169 vmcguir@mcmaster.ca

Anjum Nayyar, York University Media Relations

416 736 2100 ext. 44543 anayyar@yorku.ca

McMaster University:

McMaster University, one of four Canadian universities listed among the Top 100 universities in the world, is renowned for its innovation in both learning and discovery. We have a student population of 30,000, and more than 170,000 alumni in 137 countries. At McMaster University, we believe that finding solutions to real-world problems depends on sharing creative, diverse thoughts and ideas. To us, collaborative thinking is a gateway to smarter solutions, and greater optimism. It's helping us create a brighter world. We are creating a brighter world by encouraging collaboration across disciplines to shine new light on the world's challenges. This collaboration helps us build a better future for all. Our open, supportive environment allows diverse groups of thinkers to work together, share insights and bring ideas to life that can change the world.

York University:


York University champions new ways of thinking that drive teaching and research excellence. Our students receive the education they need to create big ideas that make an impact on the world. Meaningful and sometimes unexpected careers result from cross-disciplinary programming, innovative course design and diverse experiential learning opportunities. York students and graduates push limits, achieve goals and find solutions to the world's most pressing social challenges, empowered by a strong community that opens minds. York U is an internationally recognized research university - our 11 faculties and 25 research centres have partnerships with 200+ leading universities worldwide. Located in Toronto, York is the third largest university in Canada, with a strong community of 53,000 students, 7,000 faculty and administrative staff, and more than 300,000 alumni. York U's fully bilingual Glendon Campus is home to Southern Ontario's Centre of Excellence for French Language and Bilingual Postsecondary Education.

York University

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