Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Malfunctioning bone marrow cells sabotage nerve cells in diabetes


Malfunctioning bone marrow cells that produce insulin appear to cause a dangerous nerve condition called neuropathy that disables many people with diabetes, said a research team led by Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

The report from researchers at BCM, Shiga University of Medical Science in Japan, and the University of Chicago appears online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The finding not only provides a basis for understanding the dangerous nerve condition in diabetics, but could eventually lead to a treatment for this problem, said Dr. Lawrence Chan, chief of diabetes, endocrinology and metabolism at BCM. It may even provide an explanation for some of the other complications associated with the disease.

"These insulin-producing bone marrow cells are like terrorists that infiltrate the nerve-cell populations," he said. They produce proteins that can kill or subvert the purposes of nerve cells "almost like a suicide bomb," said Chan.

Diabetes mellitus, which afflicts roughly 18 million Americans, is a major health problem that affects multiple organs and tissues. Diabetes can be treated. However, treatment does not ward off many of the complications. Neuropathy is a common complication that causes pain and ultimately loss of sensation in the extremities and can lead to amputation.

Previously, Chan and members of his laboratory had found that bone marrow cells were among a group of cells in organs other than the pancreas that unexpectedly produced small amounts of insulin. In pursuing that finding, he and his colleagues found that the bone marrow cells that produced insulin adversely affected nerve cells or neurons.

"In our latest studies, we were surprised to discover that insulin-producing cells originating from bone marrow caused premature cell death and dysfunction when they merged with neurons, resulting in neuropathy," said Chan.

"It all began several years ago, when we were developing gene therapy to cure diabetes in mice. By chance, we observed insulin-producing bone marrow cells outside the pancreas, and wondered why these cells were migrating to other organs and whether they were detrimental or beneficial," said Chan.

In pursuit of this curious phenomenon, Drs. Tomoya Terashima and Hideto Kojima from BCM and Dr. Mineko Fujimiya of Shiga University of Medical Science in Shiga, Japan, in collaboration with Chan, performed numerous experiments in diabetic rats and mice. Their work defined the role of the aberrant cells in causing neuropathy.

They found that, in diabetes, only nerve cells that have fused with bone marrow cells display the abnormal function and premature death found in neuropathy. Nerve cells that have not merged with the insulin-producing bone marrow cells remain intact and function normally.

"Based on these findings, we speculate that a similar process contributes to some, if not all, of the other chronic complications of diabetes, and we look forward to pursuing this possibility. Discovering an underlying cause of diabetic neuropathy may enable us to design treatment strategies to prevent this complication in the future," concluded Chan.

April Sutton | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Molecular doorstop could be key to new tuberculosis drugs
20.03.2018 | Rockefeller University

nachricht Modified biomaterials self-assemble on temperature cues
20.03.2018 | Duke University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Physicists made crystal lattice from polaritons

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Thawing permafrost produces more methane than expected

20.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>