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New Discovery in Preventing Diabetic Complications


A new study sheds light on the response to infection in people with type 2 diabetes. These individuals develop diabetes associated with obesity. Findings from this study revealed that controlling a specific protein produced by the body, known as a cytokine, reduces the expression of other molecules and helps control inflammation. This is significant because many complications associated with diabetes trigger an inflammatory response. Right now, type 2 diabetes affects over 17 million people in the United States and impacts the health industry significantly on economic and individual levels [1].

Tumor necrosis factor (TNF), a type of cytokine, can cause inflammation and damage [2] in soft tissue infections, bite wounds and in periodontal disease. In a recent study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, two groups of lab mice, one normal, the other diabetic, were injected with anaerobic bacteria, a germ present in “approximately one-third of bite wounds and … associated with the formation of abscesses and with relatively serious infections,” [3,4] to determine how type 2 diabetes affects the inflammatory response in surrounding tissue. Results from the tests demonstrated that the presence of diabetes prolongs inflammation. Following infection, the normal mice were able to rapidly resolve the ensuing inflammation within three days whereas the diabetic mice could not.
“It may be particularly important in diabetics to consider the impact that prolonged inflammation might have on the course of events,” states contributing author Dr. Dana T. Graves. According to the study, diabetics are particularly susceptible to the detrimental effects of infection associated with inflammatory cytokines. Further, inflammation can often be a precursor to complications such as cardiovascular disease and poor wound healing. Dr. Graves concludes, “If excess TNF in diabetics is inhibited, the tendency for prolonged inflammation is reduced.”

1 American Diabetes Association, All About Diabetes, 2004
2 Gorman JD, et al: Treatment of ankylosing spondylitis by inhibition of tumor necrosis factor a. New England Journal of Medicine, 346(18): 1349–1356, 2002
3 Edelman S: Importance of glucose control. Med Clin North Am 82:665-687, 1998
4 Zimmet P, Alberti K, Shaw J: Global and societal implications of the diabetes epidemic. Nature 414: 782-787, 2001

Sharon Agsalda | alfa
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