Type 2 diabetes study puts the kidney, spleen and the eyes in the spotlight

10th June 2019

A new study has identified over 60 differences in molecules in 18 organs of type 2 diabetic mice.

The research found that there are more significant changes in the kidney, spleen and eyes, pointing to a faster deterioration of these organs.

Hands using a lancet to prick a finger. Blood glucose meter in background.
Researchers are working to develop better treatments for people with type 2 diabetes

 

This study is the most comprehensive understanding we have of metabolic changes in specific organs of this mouse model of type 2 diabetes and establishes a new reference for further research.

This work will therefore help researchers to develop better treatments for people living with type 2 diabetes, and therapies to prevent people ever developing the condition.

The work was led by Dr Marina Mora-Ortiz from the Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology, King’s College London.

Why did they do this research?

All types of diabetes affect an estimated 422 million people around the world, with cases increasing every day. The vast majority of cases are due to type 2 diabetes, which is a metabolic condition in which the body struggles to process sugar in the blood, and it can lead to serious complications that affect the eyes, heart, kidneys and limbs.

Although we know type 2 diabetes is a metabolic condition, there hasn’t been a systematic study of the metabolic changes which occur as the condition progresses.

The researchers wanted to develop a better understanding of the metabolic processes involved in the development of the condition, so that we can develop better treatments.

Dr Mora-Ortiz and her colleagues therefore decided to study the changes in metabolism in special model mice commonly used to study type 2 diabetes.

This is the first time that researchers have carried out this type of analysis in such a large number of organs in this model mouse, known as the db/db mouse.

What did they do?

The team studied 18 different parts of the body in six diabetic mice and in six regular mice for comparison.

The researchers used a powerful technique known as NMR spectroscopy to determine the levels of certain metabolites – molecules involved in metabolism – in each of these body parts.

The team found 61 changes in metabolites associated with type 2 diabetes. The kidney, spleen and eye had the most differences in metabolites when compared with mice without diabetes.

What does this mean for type 2 diabetes?

Dr Marina Mora-Ortiz, who led the research, explained:

“This work will help us to understand better which organs are more seriously affected by type 2 diabetes. We know now, for example, that further research should focus in the spleen which is an important organ of the immune system and has been traditionally neglected in diabetes research.”

What’s the next step?

In their paper, the authors say that future studies should consider the impact of diet and the environment on the changes in metabolites associated with type 2 diabetes.

Full citation:

Mora-Ortiz, M., Nuñez Ramos, P., Oregioni, A., Claus, S.P. (2019). “NMR metabolomics identifies over 60 biomarkers associated with Type II Diabetes impairment in db/db mice”. Metabolomics. (DOI: 10.1007/s11306-019-1548-8)

 

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