Investigating Pancreatic Beta-Cell Function in Type 2 Diabetes
January - 21 - 2011
Researchers from University College Dublin have found that a polyunsaturated fatty acid, called arachidonic acid, can have a positive effect on the function and survival of pancreatic beta-cells in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Besides higher blood glucose and lipid levels, type 2 diabetes may also be characterized by increased levels of saturated fatty acids in the bloodstream, which lead to impaired insulin secretion. Pancreatic beta cell dysfunction in diabetes has been attributed to long-term exposure to elevated glucose and saturated non-esterified fatty acid levels, which can lead to oxidative and endoplasmic reticulum stress. The researchers, whose findings are published in Clinical Science, focused on the effect of arachidonic acid on the functionality of a pancreatic beta-cell line. The investigators described how arachidonic acid has important regulatory and protective beta-cell action, such as regulating the genes involved in proliferation and fatty acid metabolism, stimulating cell proliferation, insulin secretion, and dampening the negative effects of the saturated fatty acid palmitic acid, resulting in reduced apoptosis or cell death. Lead researcher Philip Newsholme noted, "Further work is now needed to elucidate the exact mechanisms of the cytoprotection afforded to pancreatic beta cells by arachidonic acid and how it can modulate insulin secretion."
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