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 Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement
26.06.2017 | University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine

nachricht New insight into a central biological dogma on ion transport
26.06.2017 | Aarhus 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: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement

26.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Smooth propagation of spin waves using gold

26.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Switchable DNA mini-machines store information

26.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>