Stem cell research uncovers mechanism for type 2 diabetes

Feb 12, 2009

Taking clues from their stem cell research, investigators at the University of California San Diego (UC San Diego) and Burnham Institute for Medical Research (Burnham) have discovered that a signaling pathway involved in normal pancreatic development is also associated with type 2 diabetes. Their findings, published online January 9 in Experimental Diabetes Research, could provide a potential new target for therapy.

Pamela Itkin-Ansari, Ph.D., assistant adjunct professor at the UC San Diego School of Medicine and Burnham; Fred Levine, M.D., Ph.D., professor and director of the Sanford Children's Health Research Center at Burnham, and colleagues showed that the Wnt signaling pathway is up-regulated in insulin producing cells of pancreases from adults with type 2 diabetes.

"It is now clear that progenitor cells, with the capacity to become insulin producing cells, reside in the adult pancreas," said Dr. Itkin-Ansari. "The key to harnessing those cells to treat diabetes is to understand the signaling pathways that are active in the pancreas under both normal and disease conditions. In the course of that research we found that Wnt signaling activity, which plays a critical role in the development of the pancreas, re-emerges in type 2 diabetes."

The Wnt signaling pathway - a series of protein interactions that control several genes -plays a role in normal development, as well as cancer, in many tissues. In this study, the scientists compared the expression of different proteins in the Wnt pathway in the pancreas from adults with type 2 diabetes and those from healthy individuals. The researchers discovered that cells from those without the disease had low levels of beta-catenin, a protein that enters cell nuclei and activates certain genes. Beta cells from people with type 2 diabetes had increased levels of the protein.

Activation of the Wnt pathway also up-regulates the expression of c-myc, which has been implicated in the destruction of insulin-producing beta cells. Significantly, Wnt signaling was also apparent in obese mice well before they developed symptoms, indicating that Wnt may be an important factor leading to Type 2 diabetes.

More information: The publication can be found at www.hindawi.com/GetArticle.asp… =10.1155/2008/728763

Source: Burnham Institute

Explore further: Reported link between early life exposure to paracetamol and asthma 'overstated'

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Man pleads guilty in New York cybercrime case

27 minutes ago

A California man has pleaded guilty in New York City for his role marketing malware that federal authorities say infected more than a half-million computers worldwide.

NASA issues 'remastered' view of Jupiter's moon Europa

9 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Scientists have produced a new version of what is perhaps NASA's best view of Jupiter's ice-covered moon, Europa. The mosaic of color images was obtained in the late 1990s by NASA's Galileo ...

Dish restores Turner channels to lineup

9 hours ago

Turner Broadcasting channels such as Cartoon Network and CNN are back on the Dish network after being dropped from the satellite TV provider's lineup during contract talks.

LiquidPiston unveils quiet X Mini engine prototype

14 hours ago

LiquidPiston has a new X Mini engine which is a small 70 cubic centimeter gasoline powered "prototype. This is a quiet, four-stroke engine with near-zero vibration. The company said it can bring improvements ...

Recommended for you

Ebola isolation at US base 'pretty much vacation'

4 hours ago

With plenty of flat screen TVs, game nights and even an outdoor fire pit, life in isolation for members of the U.S. military who have returned from the Ebola mission in West Africa can look a lot like summer camp.

Chinese-built Ebola center dedicated in Liberia

8 hours ago

China, one of the first countries to send aid to battle Ebola in West Africa, ramped up the assistance significantly Tuesday by opening a 100-bed treatment center in Liberia as rows of uniformed Chinese army ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.