Research Highlights

doi:10.1038/nindia.2015.109 Published online 26 August 2015

Cellular stress aggravates diabetes

A link between type 2 diabetes and cellular stresses generated by the disrupted activity of a cellular organelle known as the endoplasmic reticulum (ER)1 has been discovered. Researchers identified elevated levels of stress marker genes and proteins in the peripheral mononuclear blood cells of diabetic patients. This finding could assist the development of anti-diabetic agents that alleviate complications arising from type 2 diabetes by lowering ER-induced stress.

The ER is vital for cell survival and function since it controls the structures and activities of various proteins. When ER homeostasis is altered, defective proteins accumulate, causing cells to exhibit ER stress. Previous studies had noted a possible link between ER stress and type 2 diabetes, but no such link had been found for Indian patients.

The researchers compared the levels of ER stress marker genes and proteins in the peripheral mononuclear blood cells of diabetic patients with those of healthy individuals. They found increased mRNA and protein levels of ER stress markers in the blood cells of diabetic patients. The scientists also detected that the increased levels of ER stress markers were positively correlated with poor diabetes control in patients with type 2 diabetes.

“It appears that ER stress plays an important role in triggering type 2 diabetes, suggesting that the ER stress pathway may act as an emerging target for the development of new anti-diabetic drugs with a different mode of action,” says Muthuswamy Balasubramanyam, one of the researchers.


References

1. Lenin, R. et al. Altered immunometabolism at the interface of increased endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in patients with type 2 diabetes. J. Leukoc. Biol. 98, (2015) doi: 10.1189/jlb.3A1214-609R