Sunday, 3 February 2013

Diabetes affects the production of Hematopoietic Stem Cells

Researchers from the Bristol University have discovered the presence of a disease called microangiopathy in the bone marrow of diabetic patients. It was previously known that the condition causes renal damage, blindness and even heart attacks but this is the first time that a study shows it also affects bone marrow and in turn the numbers of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs).

The study focuses on the effects of Diabetes mellitus (Type-2 Diabetes) on human hematopoietic stem cells and the formation of small blood vessels. The researchers, led by Paolo Madeddu, found out that high levels of glucose, a typical symptom of diabetes type-2, have a significant impact on bone marrow and HSCs.

The high glucose levels affect the microRNA molecules of HSCs, which are crucial for proper gene expression and thus proper biological functions. According to the findings, the amounts of MiR-155 are greatly reduced in patients with Type-2 Diabetes. MiR-155 plays an important role in various physiological and pathological processes, including the production of HSCs. This impact causes the production of less HSCs.

The researchers say that this MiR-155 reduction results in a "vicious cycle". The smaller number of HSCs cause a lack of blood supply to various tissues including the bone marrow, which further worsens the initial HSC production problem.

Prevalence of diabetes in 2000 (per 1000 inhabitants). Click to enlarge

Paolo Madeddu, the study's corresponding author, says that current literature indicates that methods for controlling glucose levels have shown success in controlling vascular complications, but are less effective for microangiopathy and thus the cycle mentioned before.

Costanza Emanueli, one of the study's authors, said that introducing new MicroRNA molecules to diabetic patients may be a viable option to reverse bone marrow damages and HSC production, adding that they are already working on various such methods. Such a method would also help diabetic patients with heart and limb ischaemia. However he concludes, there is a lot of research needed before trying such a method in human patients. 

The research team believes that their study has great implications on diabetes and has the potential to one day reverse damages induced by diabetes mellitus and some of its debilitating complications including blindness, kidney failure and amputations.

Diabetes mellitus type 2 (Type 2 diabetes) is a chronic metabolic disorder characterized by high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. It is the most common type of diabetes. The condition is believed to be a result of genes and lifestyle. More than 280 million people are currently affected by the condition.

Some common initial symptoms of type 2 diabetes are:
  • Increased Urination (polyuria)
  • Increased Thirst (polydipsia)
  • Increased hunger (polyphagia)
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Blurred vision
  • Itchiness
Video explaining the condition

Spinetti, G., Cordella, D., Fortunato, O., Sangalli, E., Losa, S., Gotti, A., Carnelli, F., Rosa, F., Riboldi, S., Sessa, F., Avolio, E., Beltrami, A., Emanueli, C., & Madeddu, P. (2012). Global Remodeling of the Vascular Stem Cell Niche in Bone Marrow of Diabetic Patients: Implication of the microRNA-155/FOXO3a Signaling Pathway Circulation Research, 112 (3), 510-522 DOI: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.112.300598

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