Can A Healthy Immune System Lead to Diabetes Prevention

B.Positive Magazine promotes healthy living and encourages our readers to alter their habits so that we all have a chance to live a healthy lifestyle. As we prepare for “Thanksgiving ” this  month we should also keep in mind that November is also “National Diabetes Prevention Month.” A recent study on metabolism and the immune system’s response was conducted by Diabetes Association-funded researcher, Gökhan Hotamisligil, MD, PhD, and his postdoctoral fellow Masato Furuhashi, MD, PhD at the  Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts. In the study researchers demonstrate the occurrence of inflammation in mice as well as in humans for diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Now, postulated evidence points to a process called metaflammation. This process is triggered by the metabolism of nutrients when the body processes food into energy. For people living with Diabetes Type I and II, the process of converting food into energy is diminished. The decrease in this process can be detrimental to cells and eventually lead organ failure.

Dr. Hotamisligil explains, “When mice eat a normal diet, a molecule named PKR (RNA-dependent protein kinase) is silent. However, if a cell containing PKR is bombarded with too many nutrients, PKR grabs other immune system molecules that respond to this attack and organizes a firing squad to shoot down normal processes, leading to insulin resistance and metabolic dysfunction.”

Researchers will now focus on the identifying which nutrients cause adverse effects. “One of the difficulties in understanding how our diet is integrated into disease risk is our inability to understand what specific component of a diet is actually regulating particular responses in humans,” says Dr. Hotamisligil. “So the discovery of this molecule actually gives us a very specific way to identify the harmful components of the diet.”

Results from follow up studies are pending, after which clinical trials would be conducted to find the potential drug or nutrients that could regulate PKR.

To learn more about this research please visit www.diabetes.org

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