Forgotten organs may hold clues to new diabetes treatment

NMR Centre used to analyse "forgotten organs" in mice with type 2 diabetes

The Crick's MRC Biomedical NMR Centre, used to analyse "forgotten organs" in mice with type 2 diabetes.

Immune disorders associated with type 2 diabetes could be better managed thanks to new research in mice that shows that “forgotten organs” such as the spleen hold clues about the disease’s effect on the body.

The new findings, published in Metabolomics found that important organs such as the spleen, kidneys and eyes revealed clues about the effects of raised blood sugar levels from type 2 diabetes at a metabolic level.

Using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), researchers at the Crick and the University of Reading systematically studied the organs and body fluids of mice after the onset of type 2 diabetes, at a molecular level.

“Not only did our results shed light on the detailed mechanisms responsible for common complications associated with type 2 diabetes, but they also showed unexpected results elsewhere in the body, which could pave the way for new diagnostics or treatments,” says Alain Oregioni, Principal Laboratory Research Scientist in the MRC Biomedical NMR Centre, where part of the metabolic analysis was conducted.

Lead author of the study, Sandrine Claus from the University of Reading said: “The most surprising finding from the study was that at a metabolic level, the spleen, a forgotten organ in type 2 diabetes that is involved in immune regulation, was far more affected by raised blood sugar levels than the heart, which gets a lot of attention because of the increased risk to develop cardiovascular pathologies.”

This unexpected finding highlights the need to study diabetes in a more integrated way. The team behind the paper are now calling for further research to look at treatments for the impact of type 2 diabetes on the somewhat forgotten organs such as the spleen, kidneys and eyes.

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