Scientists Find a Major Culprit in Pancreatic Beta Cell Loss

Keep this letter-number sequence in mind: CXCL10. You’ll probably be reading a lot more about it. 

CXCL10 is a protein that induces inflammation that can trigger the destruction of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. UCLA researcher Kathrin Maedler, PhD, and her team of scientists, who isolated CXCL10, believe that it may be one of the major causes of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Maedler and her team knew that type 1 diabetes is caused by a malfunction of the immune system that inflames and kills beta cells. But what causes the loss of beta cells in type 2s is not known, although some prior studies have implicated inflammation as a factor.

In attempting to isolate inflammatory factors, the team found that hormone-producing cells taken from type 2 patients secreted CXCL10 and contained more than 30 times the amount of ribonucleic acid-transmitted “messages” from the protein than cells taken from diabetes-free patients. 

The team’s findings present a strong case for inflammation as a major factor in type 2 beta cell destruction. The identification of CXCL10 could be very useful in predicting the onset of type 2 and developing ways to protect vulnerable beta cells from its effects, thereby preventing the disease.

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