How does vitamin D affect people with diabetes?
Many people around the world suffer from the effects of diabetes. Researchers have now developed a new possible approach to treating type 2 diabetes that can help people effectively. For this, the cells in the pancreas, which produce and release the hormone insulin, were specially protected with the help of vitamin D.
In their current study, the scientists at the Salk Institute found that the protective effect of vitamin D on so-called beta cells (cells in the pancreas) can prevent patients from developing diabetes. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Cell".
Insulin deficiency can have fatal consequences
When so-called beta cells become dysfunctional, the body can no longer produce insulin to control blood sugar (glucose). This can cause glucose levels to reach dangerous and even fatal heights, the researchers say.
Vitamin D has a huge impact on inflammation
It was already known that vitamin D can also be beneficial in the treatment of various types of cancer. In experiments on mice, vitamin D has now also proven to be beneficial in the treatment of damaged beta cells, the doctors explain. Vitamin D has a huge impact on inflammation and beta cell survival, the experts add. The scientists found that a compound called iBRD9 activates the vitamin D receptor in the body when it is combined with vitamin D. This caused the blood sugar level in mice to return to normal.
Vitamin D affects the survival of beta cells
"We know that diabetes is a disease that is caused by inflammation," says study author Ronald Evans from the Salk Institute in a press release. In the current study, the vitamin D receptor was identified as an important modulator for inflammation but also for the survival of the beta cells.
Treatment improves activation of the vitamin D receptor
With the help of embryonic stem cells, the researchers were able to improve the activation of the vitamin D receptor. The scientists achieved this by performing a special screening of the cells. The doctors then tested the effects on a mouse model. In the animals with diabetes, the glucose in the body could be brought back to a normal level.
Researchers wanted to improve natural protective effects
The study began by understanding the role of vitamin D in beta cells, says study author Zong Wei from the Salk Institute. However, it was quite difficult to protect the beta cells with the vitamin alone, the expert adds. The scientists developed some ideas on how the protective effect can be achieved and improved. The combination of iBRD9 with vitamin D ultimately led to the increased formation of certain genes that protect the beta cells. Activation of the vitamin D receptor can trigger the anti-inflammatory function of genes, which helps to better survive stressful conditions, the researchers say.
More research is needed
The study looked at diabetes, but the results may also be important for other conditions that require vitamin D to be more potent, says study author Ruth Yu from the Salk Institute. For example, experts are now interested in studying the effects on pancreatic cancer. Although the new compound did not appear to cause any side effects in the mice, further testing is now required before the first clinical studies can begin. (as)