Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Life without insulin is possible, study suggests

Date:
September 3, 2013
Source:
Université de Genève
Summary:
Several millions of people around the world suffer from insulin deficiencies. Insulin is a hormone, secreted by the beta cells in the pancreas, which plays a major role in the regulation of energy substrates such as glucose. This insufficiency, primarily caused by diabetes (types 1 and 2), has lethal consequences if it is not treated. As of now, only daily insulin injections allow certain patients to survive.

Several millions of people around the world suffer from insulin deficiencies. Insulin is a hormone, secreted by the beta cells in the pancreas, which plays a major role in the regulation of energy substrates such as glucose. This insufficiency, primarily caused by diabetes (types 1 and 2), has lethal consequences if it is not treated. As of now, only daily insulin injections allow patients to survive.

Related Articles


Several millions of people around the world suffer from insulin deficiencies. Insulin is a hormone, secreted by the beta cells in the pancreas, which plays a major role in the regulation of energy substrates such as glucose. This insufficiency, primarily caused by diabetes (types 1 and 2), has lethal consequences if it is not treated. As of now, only daily insulin injections allow patients to survive. This approach, however, brings on serious side effects. Thanks to their research which was published in the journal Cell Metabolism, the University of Geneva (UNIGE) scientists identified the underlying mechanisms, proving that life without insulin is possible, and paving the way for new diabetes treatments.

While life without insulin was inconceivable, a group of researchers, led by Roberto Coppari, professor in the Department of Cell Physiology and Metabolism at UNIGE, has just demonstrated that insulin is not vital for survival. By eliminating this dogma, scientists are now considering alternatives to insulin treatment, which poses many risks to patients. An error in dosage may cause hypoglycemia, i.e., a decrease in the level of glucose in the blood, which can lead to a loss of consciousness. In addition, about 90% of patients over 55 who have been undergoing treatment for several years develop cardiovascular disease due to elevated levels of cholesterol brought on by the lipogenic properties of insulin.

Leptin leads to an essential discovery

Researchers from UNIGE's Faculty of Medicine conducted experiments on rodents devoid of insulin, to which they administered leptin, a hormone that regulates the body's fat reserves and appetite. Thanks to the leptin, all the subjects survived their insulin deficiency. Using leptin offers two advantages: it does not provoke hypoglycemia and it has a lipolytic effect. 'Through this discovery, the path to offering an alternative to insulin treatment is emerging. Now we need to understand the mechanisms through which leptin affects glucose level, regardless of insulin level,' explains Professor Coppari.

The studies were able to verify whether the neurons involved in the mediation of leptin's anti-diabetic action in healthy mammals played a similar role in rodents suffering from an insulin deficiency. The results showed that this was not the case. In fact, to the scientists' surprise, GABAergic neurons located in the hypothalamus were identified as the main mediators of leptin's action on glucose level in the context of insulin deficiency. These neurons' influence on glucose had never been considered substantial before.

Additionally, the researchers detected the peripheral tissues that are affected by leptin during insulin deficiency. They consist mainly of the liver, the soleus muscle, and brown adipose tissue, which could be directly targeted by future treatments.

Through this discovery, scientists now know where to look for the answer to an insulin-free diabetes treatment. Understanding the functioning and effect of leptin on the body will enable scientists to identify the areas of the body that are involved, and ultimately the molecules that will form the basis of a new treatment.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Université de Genève. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Teppei Fujikawa, Eric D. Berglund, Vishal R. Patel, Giorgio Ramadori, Claudia R. Vianna, Linh Vong, Fabrizio Thorel, Simona Chera, Pedro L. Herrera, Bradford B. Lowell, Joel K. Elmquist, Pierre Baldi, Roberto Coppari. Leptin Engages a Hypothalamic Neurocircuitry to Permit Survival in the Absence of Insulin. Cell Metabolism, 2013; 18 (3): 431 DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2013.08.004

Cite This Page:

Université de Genève. "Life without insulin is possible, study suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130903123358.htm>.
Université de Genève. (2013, September 3). Life without insulin is possible, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130903123358.htm
Université de Genève. "Life without insulin is possible, study suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130903123358.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) — Advances in prosthetics are making replacement body parts stronger and more lifelike than they’ve ever been. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — Need another reason to eat yogurt every day? Researchers now say it could reduce a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins