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Bacteria can trigger type I diabetes

23 May 2016, 09:00

In Cardiff University, experts found that one of the reasons for the development of Type I diabetes mellitus may be bacteria that "make" the immune work against the body and destroy pancreatic cells that produce insulin. In earlier studies, scientists found that a certain type of white blood cells (NKT-lymphocytes) destroy cells that produce insulin, while such lymphocytes protect the body from various intracellular infections and tumors.

A new study was aimed at establishing the causes of this behavior of cells, for which the volunteer, a patient with type I diabetes, extracted NKT-lymphocytes and analyzed them.

According to Dr. David Cole, receptors on the surface of lymphocytes check the environment and give signals of further action. During the study of lymphocytes, scientists have discovered that sometimes they are affected by pathogenic bacteria that change their behavior and "force" them to attack beta cells, thereby provoking the development of Type I diabetes.

The lead author of the research project noted that NKT-lymphocytes effectively protect our body from various infections, however, when these cells begin to "work" against the body, the most serious consequences are possible.

According to the research group, this research is the first one that clearly demonstrates that bacteria can influence cells and change their behavior, but in addition, the discovery gives impetus for studying the mechanism of action of other autoimmune diseases. Professor Cole noted that scientists still have a lot of work to do before they can figure out the true causes of diabetes mellitus type I, it is now known that environmental and hereditary factors can influence the development of the disease, but the latest study added external factors to the list.

Diabetes mellitus type I develops mainly in children and adolescents, and in most cases the disease is not associated with a specific diet. The causes of this type of diabetes have been studied little to date, in addition, there is no special treatment that would help cope with severe symptoms of the disease for a long time. But scientists hope that the new study will help to better understand the mechanism of development of this type of diabetes and develop an effective method of treatment.

Diabetes leads to severe consequences, according to some reports, millions of people around the world suffer from this disease. However, scientists predict an increase in the incidence of diabetes by 2025 at least twice. Presumably, every 10 seconds in the world diabetes is diagnosed in 2 new patients, which is about 7 million cases per year, about half of cases are diagnosed at the age of 40 to 60 years, more than half of patients live in developing countries.

The most severe situation is observed in the Middle East, Australia, in countries near the Caribbean, where 20% of patients are children (from 12 years old).

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