Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Researchers identify a role for glucose-sensing neurons in type 2 diabetes

In cases of Type 2 diabetes, the body’s cells fail to appropriately regulate blood glucose levels. Research has suggested that this results from two simultaneous problems: the improper functioning of pancreatic beta cells and the impairment of insulin’s actions on target tissues, including the liver, fat and muscles.

But now, research led by scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Oregon Health & Science University has identified a third abnormality that could play an important role in the development of obesity-induced Type 2 diabetes. Reported in the journal Nature, which appears in its Advance Online format today, the study describes a previously unrecognized role for glucose-sensing neurons in the onset of the disease – in other words, an important component of Type 2 diabetes may indeed be “in your head.”

“For many years we’ve known that subpopulations of neurons in the brain become ‘excited’ by glucose,” explains Bradford Lowell, MD, PhD, an investigator in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at BIDMC and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School (HMS). “But we haven’t understood exactly how or why this is significant. With this study, we show that these neurons sense increases in glucose and then initiate responses aimed at returning blood-glucose levels to normal. This is the first demonstration that glucose-sensing by neurons plays an important role in responding to rising blood glucose levels.” This finding, adds Lowell, who served as the study’s co-senior author together with Michael Cowley, PhD, of the Division of Neuroscience, Oregon Health & Science University, could potentially lead to novel treatments for Type 2 diabetes.

Knowing that the pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons regulate body weight in both mice and humans, co-lead authors Laura Parton, PhD, Chian Ping Ye, PhD, Roberto Coppari, PhD, and Pablo Enriori, PhD, decided to study the electrical properties of these cells in an animal model.

... more about:
»Diabetes »POMC »PhD »glucose-sensing »levels »type

“New advances in genetic techniques have allowed us to express green fluorescent proteins [GFP] specifically in one cell type,” explains Parton, a member of the Lowell laboratory at BIDMC and Postdoctoral Research Fellow at HMS. “The advantage of expressing a fluorescent marker specifically in one type of neuron is the ability to identify and distinguish these cells from the many hundreds of other cell types that are present in the brain.”

As predicted, the electrophysiology experiments demonstrated that POMC neurons became electrically excited by a rise in glucose, similar to what would occur after eating a meal. The authors then went on to disrupt glucose-sensing abilities specifically in the POMC neurons – and confirmed that these neurons play a critically important role in regulating blood-glucose levels in mice. And, as is the case in pancreatic beta cells, the glucose-sensing ability of POMC neurons was shown to be defective in the mice with obesity-induced Type 2 diabetes.

“What is apparently happening,” says Parton, “is that an increase in the activity of the mitochondrial uncoupling protein 2 (UCP2), is behind the loss of glucose-sensing ability in the POMC neurons. Increased activity of UCP2 is known to cause loss of glucose-sensing and defective insulin secretion by pancreatic beta cells and this study now shows that a similar phenomenon also occurs in neurons.”

“These new findings add to our understanding of Type 2 diabetes at a critically important time,” adds Lowell. “The incidence of the disease has risen to epidemic proportions, and obesity is a big risk factor for the disease. The discovery that defects in glucose-sensing by the brain may also be contributing to Type 2 diabetes could help lead to new therapeutic strategies for this widespread problem.”

Bonnie Prescott | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: Diabetes POMC PhD glucose-sensing levels type

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>