Vitamin D might cure Diabetes

sunlight

Diabetes is really making it hard for people to live since they need to live a healthy lifestyle else, they would suffer from the complications such as blindness, and other diseases.   This is the reason, why we need to further our knowledge about the disease. Recently, a new study investigates whether vitamin D could provide a new route to treatment.

Currently, there are around 30 million people in the United States living with type 2 diabetes, a lifelong condition that cannot yet be cured.

Obesity, one of the major risk factors, is steadily rising, meaning that the number of people with type 2 diabetes is likely to follow suit.

According to Wikipedia, Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have a negative effect on health. People are generally considered obese when their body mass index (BMI), a measurement obtained by dividing a person’s weight by the square of the person’s height, is over 30 kg/m2, with the range 25–30 kg/m2 defined as overweight.  Some East Asian countries use lower values. Obesity increases the likelihood of various diseases and conditions, particularly cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, certain types of cancer, osteoarthritis and depression.

It is a condition that is causes by faulty beta cells in the pancreas.  These cells produces insulin for the body.  As we all know by now, insulin is needed to regulate blood sugar in the body.

If beta cells produce too little insulin, or none at all, glucose can accumulate in the blood at levels that are toxic to cells and tissues.

A recent study, now published in the journal Cell, looked into a novel way of protecting beta cells, thereby slowing the onset of diabetes. The researchers, from the Salk Institute in La Jolla, CA, concentrated on a well-known compound: vitamin D.

Vitamin D and diabetes

Vitamin D is often referred to as the sunshine vitamin because it is created in our skin in response to direct sunlight. Previous studies have found a connection between low vitamin D levels and a higher risk of diabetes, but the mechanisms involved have been challenging to unravel.

This explains why our parents told us to soak some sunlight early morning.  They might not know why, but one thing that they know is that it would be good for us.

This is due, in part, to the wide-reaching physiological functions of vitamin D; for instance, vitamin D is involved in cell growth, bone maintenance, neuromuscular activity, and the immune system. Also, importantly for this study, it has been implicated in inflammation.

“We know that diabetes is a disease caused by inflammation. In this study, we identified the vitamin D receptor as an important modulator of both inflammation and beta cell survival.”

Senior study author Ronald Evans

To reach these conclusions, the researchers created beta cells using embryonic stem cells. Then, they tested a battery of compounds to investigate what effects they had on them.

To reach these conclusions, the researchers created beta cells using embryonic stem cells. Then, they tested a battery of compounds to investigate what effects they had on them.

Boosting vitamin D in beta cells

The researchers found that a particular compound — called iBRD9 — boosted the activity of vitamin D receptors when they were bound to vitamin D molecules. This had a protective effect on the beta cells.

They demonstrated that, in a mouse model of diabetes, iBRD9 brought glucose levels back down into the normal range.

“This study started out by looking at the role of vitamin D in beta cells,” says first study author Zong Wei. “Epidemiological studies in patients,” he reports, “have suggested a correlation between high vitamin D concentrations in the blood and a lower risk of diabetes, but the underlying mechanism was not well understood.”

He continues, “It’s been hard to protect beta cells with the vitamin alone. We now have some ideas about how we might be able to take advantage of this connection.”

They identified a way in which vitamin D might protect beta cells. It seems to involve transcription, or how genes are decoded to produce proteins. The introduction of iBRD9 caused genes with a protective effect to be transcribed at higher rates, protecting the beta cells.

“Activating the vitamin D receptor,” notes co-corresponding study author Michael Downes, “can trigger the anti-inflammatory function of genes to help cells survive under stressed conditions.”

“By using a screening system that we developed in the lab, we’ve been able to identify an important piece of that puzzle that allows for super-activation of the vitamin D pathway.”

Michael Downes

The findings are the means for scientist to find new drugs that could treat diabetes in the future. As study co-author Ruth Yu explains, “[B]ecause this is an important receptor, it could potentially be universal for any treatments where you need to boost the effect of vitamin D. For example, we are especially interested in looking at it in pancreatic cancer.”

Though, there are notable effects in mice, it doesn’t mean that it would have the same effect on  human.  Only time will say if these drugs should be administer to human too.

Source:  Medical News Today, Wikipedia