Cellular Aging Helps Prevent Diabetes By Enhancing Insulin Secretion

Posted: Mar 9 2016, 7:01am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

Cellular Aging Helps Prevent Diabetes by Enhancing Insulin Secretion
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  • Study regarding Cellular Aging and Insulin Production may have Relevance for Future Diabetes Prevention

A study that took place regarding cellular aging and insulin production may have relevance for future diabetes prevention.

A cellular program that caused aging was found to also lead to increased insulin production by the pancreas’ beta cells. The finding was reported in a journal.

The experts studied the gene named p16 which caused old age in cells. Old age leads to cell division grinding to a halt. This of course prevents cancer. This gene caused the pancreatic beta cells to stop dividing during their aging process.

This can however contribute to the onset of diabetes. Whereas it prevents tumors and cancers from taking hold in the body, it does cause blood glucose levels to skyrocket.

The loss of beta cells causes insulin secretions to stop thus causing diabetes. What was not known was whether the aged cells would produce insulin or not.

To the utter surprise of the scientists, throughout the aging process, the p16 gene and the cellular aging caused a release of insulin too. Some of the cells actually began functioning in a more apt manner.

Thus the reversal of diabetes and improvements in glucose tolerance took place in mice in a lab thanks to the p16 gene. A similar process takes place in human beings.

Usually the aging process has a negative effect on all markers of health except for maybe peace of mind. It was thus a strange occurrence for the beta cells to actually start functioning in a more mature manner upon the onset of old age.

What was thus thought to be a one way process actually had several plateaus and even reversals and regenerative effects amongst its repertoire.

This has important ramifications for insulin secretion from the beta cells in the pancreas. Also diabetes prevention could be a more exact science in the future thanks to this scheme of things that has been uncovered.

Healthy aging may therefore lead to several improvements in various functions of the body’s organs. Most injuries, wounds, stress-related illnesses and cancerous growths normally occur within the context of a life well-lived.

However, the body has its repairing ability and can heal itself pretty well. Such drugs may be developed in the future that will enhance and augment this ability of the beta cells to secrete insulin. New tools will come in handy in the times to come for diabetes management thanks to this discovery.

This study was conducted by post-doctoral fellow Dr. Ronny Helman at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, under the guidance of Dr. Ittai Ben-Porath and Prof. Yuval Dor and in collaboration with scientists from Canada and the USA.

The findings of this study are published in the journal Nature Medicine, in a paper entitled "p16Ink4a-induced senescence of pancreatic beta cells enhances insulin secretion".

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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