Bypassing the insulin highway

Apr 28, 2008

An immune cell known as a neutrophil releases a protein that can suppress glucose production in the liver –without targeting insulin, researchers have found.

Neutrophils, a type of white blood cell, produce special immune proteins called defensins which seem to have a connection with glucose levels. During bacterial infection, defensin production can increase dramatically, a rise that frequently results in hypoglycemia. In addition, many patients with type II diabetes have decreased defensin levels.

To study this connection further, Wenhong Cao and colleagues tested the effects of human defensin HNP-1 on both isolated cells and rodent models. Treating liver cells with HNP-1 suppressed the expression of several glucose-producing genes and decreased cellular glucose levels, but did not activate or alter the expression of the insulin receptor at all. This inhibition extended to animals, as HNP-1 reduced blood glucose levels in both normal mice and diabetic rats.

These findings provide some more information linking the immune system and metabolism, and also offer a new avenue to target diabetics who do not respond well to traditional insulin-based treatments.

Source: American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Explore further: 35,000 walruses mass on Alaska beach 'due to climate change'

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Study shows sharks have personalities

10 hours ago

Some sharks are 'gregarious' and have strong social connections, whilst others are more solitary and prefer to remain inconspicuous, according to a new study which is the first to show that the notorious ...

Alaska refuge proposes killing invasive caribou

13 hours ago

Federal wildlife officials are considering deadly measures to keep an Alaska big game animal introduced more than 50 years ago to a remote island in the Aleutians from expanding its range.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

superhuman
not rated yet Apr 28, 2008
This is most likely a defense mechanism against attacking microbes - lowering glucose levels is a surefire way to slow down their divisions.