Scientists find big cause of diabetes in older people

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Researchers from Tokyo Metropolitan University have made a noteworthy discovery in understanding how pancreatic cell loss could be linked to age-related diabetes.

Their focus on pancreatic islet cell loss (ICL) in individuals without prior pancreatic issues has shed light on how different cell types in the pancreas are affected by age and sex.

The pancreas plays a crucial role in our digestive system and in regulating blood sugar by producing insulin.

Within the pancreas are small clusters of cells known as islets of Langerhans, which are responsible for producing hormones. These cells make up only about 1% of the pancreas, but changes in them can significantly impact health.

Under the guidance of Professor Shuang-Qin Yi, the team studied ICL by examining pancreatic sections from deceased individuals aged 65 to 104 who had no known pancreatic diseases.

This research, published in the journal Digestive and Liver Disease, is unique as it focuses on ICL in a healthy population, a rarely studied area.

By analyzing stained sections of the pancreas under a microscope, they assessed the degree of cell loss. The study paid particular attention to four primary cell types: alpha, beta, delta, and PP cells.

The key finding was a significant decrease in beta cells, which are crucial for insulin production, in older individuals. This loss was more pronounced in the elderly, pointing to a potential cause of age-related diabetes.

Additionally, the research revealed a correlation between ICL and pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasias (PanIN), microscopic lesions in the pancreas. Interestingly, severe ICL seemed less common at more advanced ages.

Another striking aspect of the study was the gender difference observed: women, particularly those over 70, were more likely to experience severe ICL.

This aligns with 2021 data from the International Diabetes Foundation, which indicated a higher incidence of diabetes in women over 70 compared to men.

The study suggests that the loss of beta cells due to ICL could be a key factor driving the development of senile diabetes. This insight opens up new avenues for preventative treatments that specifically target the preservation of beta cells in the elderly.

The findings underscore the importance of understanding the intricate changes in our body as we age and how they can lead to common age-related diseases like diabetes.

By focusing on such specific aspects of cellular loss in vital organs like the pancreas, researchers are paving the way for more targeted and effective interventions for age-related health issues.

If you care about diabetes, please read studies that not all whole grain foods could benefit people with type 2 diabetes, and green tea could help reduce death risk in type 2 diabetes.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about unhealthy plant-based diets linked to metabolic syndrome, and results showing Mediterranean diet could help reduce the diabetes risk by one third.

The research findings can be found in Digestive and Liver Disease.

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