New scientific knowledge on juvenile diabetes

Dec 17, 2008

Finnish scientists have reported a breakthrough in the attempts to understand the development of type 1 diabetes. They discovered disturbances in lipid and amino acid metabolism in children who later progressed to type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes. The alterations preceded the autoimmune response by months to years. The study may prompt new approaches for prediction and prevention of type 1 diabetes in pre-autoimmune phase of the disease.

The results of the Finnish research team, which consists of scientists from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and the Universities of Turku, Oulu and Tampere, have been published on 15 December 2008, in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the insulin producing pancreatic beta cells. The gradual loss of beta cells results in life-long dependence on exogenous insulin.

At the moment, the earliest identifiable process in the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes has been the development of autoimmunity to pancreatic beta cells in the measurable form of islet autoantibodies. Although the autoimmunity usually precedes the clinical disease by months to years, its occurrence may already be too late for therapeutic approaches aimed at preventing progression to overt diabetes. The initiators of the autoimmune response have remained unknown and the mechanisms supporting progression towards beta cell failure have been poorly understood, making discovery of effective prevention a challenge. The results of the SYSDIPP project, which was supported by the Tekes FinnWell Program, bring significant new information for combating the disease.

The SYSDIPP project has made use of metabolomics. Metabolomics systematically studies the chemical fingerprints in cells, tissues and biofluids in a given physiological and environmental context. The metabolic phenotype is sensitive to subtle factors such as age, lifestyle, nutrition and the microbe environment of the intestines. Changes in the concentrations of metabolites may thus reflect both genetic and environmental factors influencing later susceptibility to chronic diseases.

In 1994, an ongoing birth cohort study (DIPP, the Type 1 Diabetes Prediction and Prevention study) was launched in Finland, supported by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International. Over a period of 14 years, more than 130,000 newborn infants have been screened for genetic risk and over 8000 at-risk children are being regularly followed.

The research team was led by Prof. Matej Orešič from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and Prof. Olli Simell from University of Turku. Also Professors Mikael Knip, Jorma Ilonen, and Riitta Lahesmaa together with Dr. Riitta Veijola and Dr.Tuula Simell took part in the study, which investigated metabolic profiles of DIPP children prospectively from birth. The research team has published the results in The Journal of Experimental Medicine on 15 December 2008. The article reports the discovery of metabolic disturbances that precede the autoimmune response in children who later progress to type 1 diabetes.

The investigators found that the individuals who developed diabetes had reduced serum levels of succinic acid and phosphatidylcholine at birth, reduced levels of triglycerides and antioxidant ether phospholipids throughout the follow-up and increased levels of proinflammatory lysophosphatidylcholines several months prior to autoimmunity to pancreatic beta cells. The metabolic profile was partially normalized following the autoimmune response, suggesting autoimmunity may be a relatively late physiological response to the early metabolic disturbances. The observed lipid changes were not attributable to HLA-associated genetic risk.

Metabolic profiling at early age may therefore aid in determining the risk of type 1 diabetes. The reported findings imply that metabolic or immunomodulatory interventions during the pre-autoimmune period may be used as a new potential strategy for prevention of type 1 diabetes.

The incidence of type 1 diabetes among children and adolescents has increased markedly in the Western countries during recent decades. The incidence has reached record levels in Finland, where currently 1 child out of 120 develops type 1 diabetes before the age of 15 years. The annual incidence is increasing at accelerated rate, with the number of new cases expected to double in the next 15 years.

Reference:

M. Orešiè et al., Dysregulation of lipid and amino acid metabolism precedes islet autoimmunity in children who later progress to type 1 diabetes, J. Exp. Med. (2008); doi: 10.1084/jem.20081800

Source: VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland

Explore further: Research shows that bacteria survive longer in contact lens cleaning solution than thought

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

An end to animal testing for drug discovery?

Mar 18, 2014

As some countries and companies roll out new rules to limit animal testing in pharmaceutical products designed for people, scientists are stepping in with a new way to test therapeutic drug candidates and determine drug safety ...

Chance determines cell death or normal sugar consumption

Jan 17, 2014

Some cells fail by chance, and not due to a genetic defect, to properly initiate the molecular processes for the breakdown of sugar. These cells are unable to grow and subsequently die. This discovery was done by a multidisciplinary ...

Recommended for you

Researchers discover target for treating dengue fever

11 hours ago

Two recent papers by a University of Colorado School of Medicine researcher and colleagues may help scientists develop treatments or vaccines for Dengue fever, West Nile virus, Yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis and other ...

Tracking flu levels with Wikipedia

11 hours ago

Can monitoring Wikipedia hits show how many people have the flu? Researchers at Boston Children's Hospital, USA, have developed a method of estimating levels of influenza-like illness in the American population by analysing ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Turning off depression in the brain

Scientists have traced vulnerability to depression-like behaviors in mice to out-of-balance electrical activity inside neurons of the brain's reward circuit and experimentally reversed it – but there's ...

Scientists tether lionfish to Cayman reefs

Research done by U.S. scientists in the Cayman Islands suggests that native predators can be trained to gobble up invasive lionfish that colonize regional reefs and voraciously prey on juvenile marine creatures.

White House updating online privacy policy

A new Obama administration privacy policy out Friday explains how the government will gather the user data of online visitors to WhiteHouse.gov, mobile apps and social media sites. It also clarifies that ...

Six Nepalese dead, six missing in Everest avalanche

At least six Nepalese climbing guides have been killed and six others are missing after an avalanche struck Mount Everest early Friday in one of the deadliest accidents on the world's highest peak, officials ...