Possible breath-through with Diabetes

Researchers at Toronto and the University of Calgary found a reversal of type 1 diabetes in mice injected with substance P.

“What we really have discovered is that the immune system is under much closer control by the nervous system than we thought, that this control to a large extent involves sensory nerves,” said Dosch, explaining that such nerves are the same kind that signal the brain to send out pain messages when an ankle is broken or a finger is burned on a hot stove.
As part of their studies, the scientists knocked out specific pain-related nerve cells in newborn lab mice. These nerve cells secrete a chemical called “substance P,” which is known to amplify pain signals as well as boosting inflammation.
The mice were “perfectly fine . . . except that instead of getting diabetes 90 per cent (of the time), they got none or very little,” said Dosch. “Not only did they not get diabetes, but their pancreas was clean — there was no inflammation, no nasties that make the disease in the pancreas.”
“That was the real wow.”
In other words, a dysfunctional immune response is not the only thing needed to get diabetes — the nerve cells are also critical, he said.
In another experiment, the researchers injected substance P into mice whose islet cells were already inflamed and on the way to being destroyed. By the next day, the inflammation in the animals’ pancreatic islets had disappeared.
“That was our first shock. To make an islet clean that’s fully inflamed, that’s hard,” said Dosch.

The accepted reason for developing diabetes is that there is an autoimmune destruction of the pancreatic islet cells. However, this experiment seems to indicate that it is the diabetic pancreas producing too few neuropeptides that is the initial cause of pancreatic islet cell atrophy. Substance P is involved in the transmission of pain and increases inflammation. Apparently it is this increased nerve transmission cause by the Substance P that reverses the diabetes. I am a little confused as the article attributes a reduction of inflammation in the pancreas after the application of Substance P. However Substance P potentiates inflammation and nerve activity. Unfortunately I could not find the original paper.

This in not only an important finding trying to understand and hopefully cure diabetes, but it provides a new model of disease or rather extends the role of the nervous system as the cause of disease; disease that would not be immediately attributable to the nervous system. Perhaps altered neuronal activity is another mechanism through which acupuncture can work in seemingly non-neurological diseases.

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