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Is Type 2 Diabetes an Inflammatory Disease?

Nov 21, 2014
 

Macrophages, a type of immune cell, were found invading pancreatic tissue during the early stages of the disease…

Type 2 diabetes is characterized by the loss of beta cells, reduced insulin production and low-grade systemic inflammation.

 

A new study compared healthy mice to obese mice that developed diabetes. The mice were followed at a young age. The obese mice showed early signs of diabetes where they displayed systemic complications in multiple organs. The authors found macrophages, a type of immune cell, invading the pancreatic tissue and in the spleen during the early stages of type 2 diabetes. The inflammatory cells then produce a large amount of cytokines, pro-inflammatory proteins that directly contribute to the elimination of insulin being produced in the beta cells of the pancreas leading to diabetes.

At eight weeks, 12 macrophages were observed in diabetic mice and only two in the nondiabetic mice. The systemic immunity in diabetic mice was characterized “by a low-grade inflammation with elevated cytokine levels and increase splenic cytokine, producing CD68+F4/80- macrophages.” In late-stage diabetes, a significant increase of galectin-3 positive macrophages was seen in the spleen. Results indicate that “pro-inflammatory M1-like galectin-3+ CD80/CD86 low macrophages invade diabetic islets.”

The study provided important information on how inflammatory cells might be associated with type 2 diabetes. New immune-based therapies could be developed to diminish the severity of the disease.

Practice Pearls:

  • Greater cytokine production was found in diabetic mice.
  • Cytokines contribute to the elimination of the insulin produced in the beta cells of the pancreas.
  • New immune-based therapies could help reduce the inflammatory cells in patients with diabetes and diminish the severity of the disease.

H. Cucak, L. G. Grunnet, A. Rosendahl. “Accumulation of M1-like macrophages in type 2 diabetic islets is followed by a systemic shift in macrophage polarization”. Journal of Leukocyte Biology, 2013; DOI: 10.1189/jlb.0213075