Some Adults With Type 1 Diabetes Still Produce Insulin

In a recent study at Uppsala University in Sweden, about half the participants with type 1 diabetes for more than ten years were still producing some insulin.

Type 1 diabetes has been defined as a chronic disease that occurs when the body ceases to manufacture insulin. However, using innovative insulin assays the Swedish researchers found this definition is not accurate for all type 1 individuals.

In the study, more than 100 type 1 adult diabetes patients at Uppsala University Hospital were assessed. The investigators found nearly half the patients with diabetes for at least ten years were still producing some insulin, and there were significant immune system differences between those who still manufactured insulin, and those with complete loss of insulin production.

The patients who retained insulin production showed greater blood levels of interleukin-35, an immune system anti-inflammatory signal protein. These individuals also had substantially more immune cells that make interleukin-35, and lessen immune attacks. Whether these patients had higher levels of interleukin-35 at their diabetes onset, or if the level increased over time is unknown.

The same research team did an earlier study revealing those just diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and those with a long history of the disease have, on average, less interleukin-35 than non-diabetic individuals. The research also indicated, in animal models, that diabetes onset could be prevented, and the illness could be reversed with interleukin-35 treatment.

Owed to the protective effect interleukin-35 has on insulin producing cells, the researchers hope the current study will garner interest in developing interleukin-35 as a pharmaceutical intervention for type 1 diabetes.

Source: Uppsala University
Photo credit: Melissa Wiese

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