A study explaining why patients with cystic fibrosis often develop diabetes as they age has been published in Nature Communications this week.
Cystic fibrosis is caused by mutations in the gene “CFTR” which lead to the accumulation of sticky mucus in the lung. Epidemiological studies have shown that patients with cystic fibrosis often develop diabetes but the underlying reasons have been poorly understood.
Hsiao Chang Chan and colleagues now show that CFTR is also expressed in the pancreas, where it modulates glucose-induced insulin secretion from β-cells. They further demonstrate that an experimental drug for the treatment of cystic fibrosis restores normal function of β-cells with this mutation.
The study reveals a previously unrecognised contribution of CFTR to the function of pancreatic β-cells and suggests a potential treatment strategy for cystic fibrosis associated diabetes.