Researchers at the Belgian Université catholique de Louvain discovered a kind of “jammer” in the communication that takes place between the intestine and the brain. This disturbance seems to prevent the proper regulation of the sugar balance and thus cause insulin resistance. The team also discovered that certain lipids counteract this dysfunction, allowing the body to better regulate the sugar level. The research results were recently presented in the scientific journal “GUT”.
Almost every second person in Europe is overweight, about ten percent of the European population suffer from diabetes. Despite the high prevalence, the causes of this serious widespread disease are not yet sufficiently understood in detail. A Belgian research team has now found a new piece of the puzzle to unravel this complex process – and a new approach to treatment.
Since 2004, the team of scientists Claude Knauf and Patrice Cani has been analyzing molecular and cellular mechanisms with the aim of understanding the causes of type 2 diabetes. Above all, the researchers aim to identify new therapeutic targets. Now the research group reports on a promising approach that focuses on the communication between intestinal bacteria and the brain.
In their years of research, the scientists found that communication between the intestine and the brain plays an overriding role in the regulation of blood glucose.
Communication between the intestine and the brain
During the digestive process in the intestine, nutrients that are useful to the body, such as sugar and fats, are filtered out of the food. As the researchers report, the intestine sends a signal to the brain during the digestion process. With this message, the intestine tells the brain how much sugar and fat is available. The brain transmits this message to various organs, such as the liver, muscles and fatty tissue. The organs then adjust the blood sugar and fat levels based on the signal.
According to the current study, this process is disrupted in people with diabetes. The intestines send no or faulty signals to the brain. The reason for this is a so-called hyper-contractility of the intestine. This means that the muscle tissue in the intestine of diabetics contracts excessively often or increasingly. The uncontrolled contractions interfere with the signals sent to the brain, which means that the brain no longer gives the command to remove the sugar from the blood, resulting in hyperglycemia.
To get to the bottom of the cause of hyperglycemia in diabetes, the researchers compared the intestinal bacteria in mice with no diabetes. The team also investigated how prebiotics affected the intestinal flora. In the process, the team discovered that diabetic mice were deficient in a certain lipid. The team also confirmed this deficiency in people with diabetes.
New approach to the development and treatment of diabetes
In addition, the researchers also discovered a new bioactive lipid that could help reduce intestinal inflammation. This approach will also be investigated in further studies. (vb)
The lipid is the so-called 12-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid (12-HETE). Researchers attribute a key role to this lipid in restoring sugar regulation. They emphasize that such lipids are essential messenger substances that target intestinal-brain communication very precisely. The team is currently testing whether the lipids are suitable for the treatment of diabetes. This could either be achieved by stimulating the body’s own production or by taking a drug to ingest the lipids.
WashingtonNewsday Health and Wellness.