How your body protects itself from type 2 diabetes

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A specific group of white blood cells, termed “regulatory T cells,” keeps the immune system in balance and suppresses its activity to protect the body against autoimmune diseases.

In a study from German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, scientists discovered a new mechanism by which regulatory T cells inhibit inflammation, specifically in adipose tissue.

This mechanism plays an important role in protecting against type 2 diabetes, as an overactive immune system in adipose tissue can promote insulin resistance and thus contribute to this metabolic disease.

Regulatory T cells keep the immune system under control. They circulate in the bloodstream or reside in certain tissues to counter local inflammation.

The role of regulatory T cells in adipose tissue has been well studied. They keep the tissue healthy and thus counteract the development of type 2 diabetes.

However, little is known about how they accomplish this task. This study showed that a protein called 15-hydroxyprostaglandin dehydrogenase—HPGD for short—is essential for the proper functioning of these cells.

In the study, the researchers found that HPGD is highly enriched in regulatory T cells in both mice and humans. It metabolizes a tissue hormone called prostaglandin E2, which is found at high levels in adipose tissue.

This metabolic product then activates other factors that can downregulate the immune system.

In addition, the team found a high-fat diet more easily led to insulin resistance in mice lacking HPGD in the regulatory T cells.

Moreover, the researchers observed a correlation between HPGD and type 2 diabetes in humans: The protein was reduced in regulatory T cells of patients with diabetes.

The researchers thus conclude that HPGD in regulatory T cells protects against inflammation in adipose tissue and type 2 diabetes.

If you care about diabetes, please read studies about common food that may help lower risk of diabetes, and the key to treating type 2 diabetes.

For more information about diabetes, please see recent studies about drug that could prevent kidney failure in people with diabetes, and results showing scientists find a cure for type 2 diabetes.

The study was conducted by Marc Beyer et al and published in the journal Immunity.

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