Big step for the therapy of type 2 diabetes

Obesity is associated with adipose tissue inflammation, insulin resistance and the development of type 2 diabetes (T2D). However, our understanding is mostly based on conventional murine models and promising preclinical studies rarely translated into successful therapies. Dr. Julia Sbierski-Kind and her colleagues from the Berlin-Brandenburg Center for Regenerative Therapies (BCRT) and the Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin have taken a different approach and have come a bit closer to the therapy of type 2 diabetes.

Instead of conducting their mouse studies conventionally, i.e. in a pathogen-free environment, the researchers analysed the effects of pathogen-acquired immunity (so-called adaptive immunity) and metabolic disease processes during a high-fat diet. "Surprisingly, in the non-germ-free environment, the mice maintained increased insulin levels to compensate for insulin resistance, which was reflected in islet hyperplasia and improved glucose tolerance compared to the germ-free environment," said lead author Sbierski-Kind. "In contrast, we observed higher levels of effector / memory T cell subgroups in the blood and liver of non-germ-free mice."

For the transfer of basic research into therapeutic practice – the so-called translation – the study is exemplary. "It could be a valuable tool for discovering therapeutic targets for immune-based interventions in patients with type 2 diabetes," explains Professor Dr. Hans-Dieter Volk, co-author of the paper and director of the BCRT.