The immune system could play a beneficial role in regulating insulin, according to a study from Switzerland.
Researchers at the University of Basel in Switzerland have discovered a feedback mechanism in the pancreas of overweight patients with type 2 diabetes that could help maintain insulin production.
In the study, which was published in Immunity, researchers looked at the impact the IL33 protein—which is activated during diabetic conditions—had on ILC2 immune cells located in the pancreas. They found that the IL33 protein stimulated ILC2 cells, triggering the release of insulin in overweight patients through the use of retinoic acid, according to a statement about the findings.
The finding suggests that this release of insulin could help combat the failure of insulin production in diabetic individuals.
"It's a proof of concept that the immune system can have a positive influence on insulin secretion," Marc Y. Donath, MD, one of the study's authors, told Drug Topics.
Donath, who is Chief of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at the University Hospital Basel, said that while the deleterious role of chronic inflammation during development of type 2 diabetes has already been established, this study demonstrates that the immune system also has components that could provide a protective or beneficial role to patients with the disease.
"The complex interactions between endocrine cells and immune cells are clearly significant for the maintenance of insulin release," according to the statement.
Before the immune system can be used to maintain insulin production, several questions still need to be answered, including what is the best molecule to target, the long-term effects of the strategy, safety concerns, and the translation of such research for humans, Donath told Drug Topics
According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 30 million Americans have diabetes. Of those with type 2 diabetes, 85.2% are overweight or obese.