Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Stanford researchers shed light on black box of gestational diabetes

02.11.2007
A protein in the pancreas is giving researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine their first chance at cracking the code that determines how diabetes develops during pregnancy, a finding that could lead to new treatments for all forms of diabetes.

The study may help explain why roughly 5 percent of women develop diabetes temporarily while pregnant, a condition called gestational diabetes. That condition is a leading cause of birth defects and can predispose the child to develop diabetes later in life.

"The basis of gestational diabetes has been a black box," said Seung Kim, MD, PhD, associate professor of developmental biology and senior author on the study. The results will be published in the Nov. 2 issue of the journal Science.

The protein Kim and his colleagues studied, called menin, was already known to have a role in preventing cancer in the pancreas and other organs. When menin is present it blocks the growth of pancreatic cells and, in that way, prevents cancer.

However, cells of the hormone-producing part of the pancreas, called the islets, need to grow in pregnant women or when people gain weight as a way of providing enough insulin for the burgeoning supply of cells. The increase in pancreas islet cells provides the additional insulin needed for the cells of the body to take up sugar from the blood. After a pregnant woman delivers her child, the pancreatic islets return to their original size.

According to Kim's work in mice, the pancreas accomplishes that adaptive growth by producing less menin during pregnancy. With less of the brake present, the pancreatic islet cells can divide, and this growth provides the additional insulin. Within a week after delivery the menin levels in the mice were back up to normal and the pancreatic islets began shrinking to their original size.

When Kim and postdoctoral scholar Satyajit Karnik, PhD, first author of the study, created mice that produce too much menin, the islets couldn't grow sufficiently during pregnancy and the mice ended up with gestational diabetes.

"This suggests that there is an internal code for controlling pancreatic islet growth, a code we intend to crack," Kim said. That code appears to be regulated partly by the level of menin.

Kim's group also showed that a natural way of regulating the amount of menin present in the pancreas is through a hormone called prolactin, which is abundant in pregnant women. Other researchers had previously shown that prolactin during pregnancy stimulates the islet cells to start dividing, but how it accomplished this stimulation was unclear.

Kim and Karnik suspected menin might be the link other researchers had been looking for. To test that idea, they gave prolactin to nonpregnant mice. As predicted, menin levels dropped and the pancreas increased in size, mimicking what is seen during pregnancy.

Kim said that although most of this research relates to menin regulation during pregnancy, similar forces may be at work in obese adults with diabetes. He and Karnik found that obese mice have less menin in the pancreas than mice at a normal weight. That finding suggests that menin may have a central role in obesity-related diabetes as well.

Kim said prolactin may be just one way of regulating menin levels and as a result regulating pancreatic growth. Other hormones may be involved in increasing or decreasing menin in nonpregnant adults.

Understanding the mechanisms of regulating menin should lead to new ways of growing islets for transplantation into people with type-1 diabetes and could lead to new treatments for diabetes in pregnant women or obese adults, Kim said.

Gestational diabetes, which is on the rise nationwide, is becoming more recognized as a significant risk to mothers and their babies. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-NY, recently cosponsored a bill aimed at devoting more funding to understanding, preventing and treating the disease.

Amy Adams | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://mednews.stanford.edu

Further reports about: Researchers gestational islet menin pancreas pancreatic pregnant prolactin

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Link Discovered between Immune System, Brain Structure and Memory
26.04.2017 | Universität Basel

nachricht Researchers develop eco-friendly, 4-in-1 catalyst
25.04.2017 | Brown 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: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientist invents way to trigger artificial photosynthesis to clean air

26.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ammonium nitrogen input increases the synthesis of anticarcinogenic compounds in broccoli

26.04.2017 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history

26.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>