Cytokine resistance contributes to pathology of type 2 diabetes

June 14, 2007

In a study appearing this month in the Journal of Immunology, researchers at the University of Illinois describe how an impaired anti-inflammatory response plays a role in the pathology of type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is classified as a metabolic disorder, but a growing number of researchers are beginning to think of it also as a disease of the innate immune system. Inflammation, a key component of the early immune response, is chronically elevated in people with type 2 diabetes. While the pro-inflammatory pathways of type 2 diabetes have received much attention, the anti-inflammatory side of the equation is less well known.

The new study focused on a number of cytokines, protein signals that bind to specific receptors on cells and set off a cascade of biochemical reactions within the cell. Interleukins, interferons, tumor necrosis factors and some growth factors are among the cytokines that direct many aspects of the immune response. Cytokines are secreted by many types of cells, including the immune cells known as macrophages.

In earlier studies, the researchers had shown that macrophages in diabetic and obese (diabese) mice secrete more pro-inflammatory and less anti-inflammatory cytokines than those of nondiabese mice. The team, led by pathology professor and department head Gregory Freund, also had demonstrated that human monocytes cultured under type 2 diabetic conditions had impaired interleukin-4 signaling. Interleukin 4 (IL-4) is an important player in the immune response in that it steers macrophages toward the production of other anti-inflammatory cytokines. It also inhibits secretion of the pro-inflammatory cytokines.

When IL-4 binds to its receptor on a target cell, it sets off one of two cascades of intracellular events.

The first of these signal transduction pathways, the Jak-STAT pathway, is well studied and well understood. The second, called the insulin receptor substrate 2 / phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (IRS-2/PI3K) pathway, was more of a mystery, and of greater interest to Freund and his colleagues.

What drew them to this pathway was its potential role in the anti-inflammatory response, and its similarity to the cascade initiated when cells respond to insulin.

"One of the actions of diabetes is to create intracellular insulin resistance," Freund said. "Some of the cytokines that work on cells share the same pathways as the insulin receptor." Since diabetes causes insulin resistance, Freund said, "shouldn't there be a resistance to cytokines, too" And that is what we found."

The research team showed, for the first time, that the IRS-2 signaling arm of the interleukin-4 pathway directed the up-regulation of a key anti-inflammatory molecule in primary macrophages, and that this pathway was disrupted in type 2 diabetic conditions. They also showed that the loss of IL-4 function in diabese mice caused chronic over-expression of an important suppressor of cytokine signaling (SOCS) protein. This SOCS-3 protein aborts the cascade of events that normally leads to insulin uptake and/or cytokine signaling in a balanced inflammatory response.

This study supports earlier findings that inflammation is a key part of the pathology of diabetes, Freund said. Pro-inflammatory cytokines are elevated in type 2 diabetes, but the anti-inflammatory mechanisms are also impaired, leading to a multitude of major and minor health issues in the diabese.

"They get a cold. They get injured. Something happens. And it's worse in those people with obesity or diabetes and lasts longer than it does in others," Freund said. "Why" The imbalance may be the elevation in pro-inflammation. But it probably also includes a loss of anti-inflammatory function."
-end-
This research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, American Heart Association, and the U. of I. Agricultural Experiment Station.

Editor's notes: To reach Gregory Freund, call 217-244-8839; e-mail: freun@uiuc.edu.

To view or subscribe to the RSS feed for Science News at Illinois, please go to: http://webtools.uiuc.edu/rssManager/608/rss.xml.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Related Diabetes Articles from Brightsurf:

New diabetes medication reduced heart event risk in those with diabetes and kidney disease
Sotagliflozin - a type of medication known as an SGLT2 inhibitor primarily prescribed for Type 2 diabetes - reduces the risk of adverse cardiovascular events for patients with diabetes and kidney disease.

Diabetes drug boosts survival in patients with type 2 diabetes and COVID-19 pneumonia
Sitagliptin, a drug to lower blood sugar in type 2 diabetes, also improves survival in diabetic patients hospitalized with COVID-19, suggests a multicenter observational study in Italy.

Making sense of diabetes
Throughout her 38-year nursing career, Laurel Despins has progressed from a bedside nurse to a clinical nurse specialist and has worked in medical, surgical and cardiac intensive care units.

Helping teens with type 1 diabetes improve diabetes control with MyDiaText
Adolescence is a difficult period of development, made more complex for those with Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM).

Diabetes-in-a-dish model uncovers new insights into the cause of type 2 diabetes
Researchers have developed a novel 'disease-in-a-dish' model to study the basic molecular factors that lead to the development of type 2 diabetes, uncovering the potential existence of major signaling defects both inside and outside of the classical insulin signaling cascade, and providing new perspectives on the mechanisms behind insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes and possibly opportunities for the development of novel therapeutics for the disease.

Tele-diabetes to manage new-onset diabetes during COVID-19 pandemic
Two new case studies highlight the use of tele-diabetes to manage new-onset type 1 diabetes in an adult and an infant during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Genetic profile may predict type 2 diabetes risk among women with gestational diabetes
Women who go on to develop type 2 diabetes after having gestational, or pregnancy-related, diabetes are more likely to have particular genetic profiles, suggests an analysis by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and other institutions.

Maternal gestational diabetes linked to diabetes in children
Children and youth of mothers who had gestational diabetes during pregnancy are at increased risk of diabetes themselves, according to new research published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Two diabetes medications don't slow progression of type 2 diabetes in youth
In youth with impaired glucose tolerance or recent-onset type 2 diabetes, neither initial treatment with long-acting insulin followed by the drug metformin, nor metformin alone preserved the body's ability to make insulin, according to results published online June 25 in Diabetes Care.

People with diabetes visit the dentist less frequently despite link between diabetes, oral health
Adults with diabetes are less likely to visit the dentist than people with prediabetes or without diabetes, finds a new study led by researchers at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing and East Carolina University's Brody School of Medicine.

Read More: Diabetes News and Diabetes Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.