Mechanism behind age-dependent diabetes discovered

18 September 2014

A new study has suggested that the ageing of insulin-secreting cells is coupled to a progressive decline in signal transduction and insulin release. The findings, which were published in the journal Diabetes, provide a new molecular mechanism underlying age-related impairment of insulin-producing cells and diabetes.

Getting older is one of the largest known risk factors for many diseases, including type 2 diabetes. Those that are over 65 are at a significantly higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes if their insulin-producing cells in the pancreas fail to compensate for insulin resistance. When beta cells stop producing as much insulin it is a contributing factor for developing disease, but little is known about why this happens.

Investigating the link between ageing, beta cell dysfunction and diabetes, the team looked at three types of calcium ions. During their research, the team determined that an impaired regulation of calcium in the beta cell was a molecular mechanism linking mitochondrial dysfunction to impaired insulin release. 

“Calcium ions as mediators of signals in the cell play a crucial role in regulating the function and survival of insulin-producing beta cells”, said Luo-Sheng Li, the study’s first author. 

Posted by Philip Briggs​

 

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