Type 1 Diabetes Preceded by Pro-Inflammatory Lipids in Children

Posted on October 06, 2020


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Type 1 diabetes is a disease familiar to many. Autoimmune in nature, the disease dispatches immune cells to target and eliminate the pancreas’ beta cells, the latter of which produce insulin. The signaling that underpins this autoimmune assault has proved elusive; however, researchers could be on the verge of breakthrough. A profile of pro-inflammatory lipids may just be key in the onset of type 1 diabetes in children.

What the Profile Shows

While scant in previous research, pro-inflammatory lipids show evidence in signaling. A band of UAB researchers, alongside colleagues elsewhere in the U.S. and Greece, have honed in on iPLA2 (the lipid profile) as a type 1 diabetes precursor.

What research about the profile shows is this: iPLA2 predates type 1 diabetes’ introduction in mice, as well children who have not yet reached the age of 15. In fact, both non-obese diabetic mice and children ages 9 through 15 at risk for diabetes seemed to share similar pro-lipid inflammatory signatures in their blood plasma. The links between iPLA2 and type 1 diabetes cannot go unnoticed.

In research, the results became telling. For instance, roughly 80-90% of non-obese diabetic mice become diabetic after 25 to 30 weeks. However, this rate slides down to only 10-15% if an iPLA2-beta inhibitor is introduced at 10 days old. If introduction slips to either four or eight weeks, diabetes development shoots up to 60-80%, respectively, in mice.

What It Could Mean

As evidence mounts, the part proinflammatory lipids play in type 1 diabetes has strong signs of support. The research indicates that iPLA2 contributes to the buildup of T-cell immune responses and the subsequent deletion of pancreatic beta cells. But this profile of lipids, when paired with autoantibodies, is not solely consigned to a key, pre-type 1 diabetes biomarker: it could also prove essential in pinpointing other lipids prime for therapeutics. That shows promise in research advancement aimed at curtailing type 1 diabetes development.

Your Resource for Research

More and more research points to the power of lipids—and the degree to which they play a part. Hint: it’s much more than previously thought.

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