Click to listen to the audio…
Maybe you don’t need new beta cells
Getting older, is definitely NOT for sissies.
A multitude of body parts……………FAIL.
Among the parts, failing are the beta cells of the pancreas. This fail has big consequences.
Then type 2 diabetes and all its nasty consequences.
The current fix, for someone with type 2 diabetes, is to outsource the job, of glucose management, using medication.
It works….. up to a point.
But, the uncomfortable truth is, good glycemic control is NOT ENOUGH, to stop the progression of the disease.
So most people with type 2 diabetes, dream of “fixing” their beta cells.
New beta cells please
And, there are legions of scientists, who share this dream, they are working towards, “getting them back”, one way or another.
But this begs the question – are the beta cells really DEAD / BROKEN ?
This is what a team of Korean researchers dared ask – their answer, was somewhat surprising…….
Old beta cells don’t NEED fixing – they’re actually quite capable and competent.
Something else needs to BE FIXED.
Old beta cells get rejuvenated
To arrive at this unexpected conclusion, the research team, did something quite radical, they performed a beta islet cell transplantation, with OLD islets.
NOTE : Islets are not beta cells, they are irregular patches of endocrine tissue, found in the pancreas, there are millions of them. Beta cells are just one of the distinct cell types found in islets.
The islets they used, had spent their best days, in male C57BL/6 mice, but since the mice (and beta cells) were already 18 months old, which is middle aged for a mouse, these beta cells were “past their prime”.
Now they weren’t KAPUT.
These middle aged animals were not diabetic, but they were a little glucose intolerant.
When they got a very big sugar rush, the sugar levels spiked. Normal sugar levels were dutifully handled. The solid brown dots reflect the glycemic response, to 4 g/kg glucose of older animals, the green dots for young animals.
In this study, to DO the islet transplantation, individual islets of Langerhans, were carefully removed, and popped into the anterior chamber of the eye, of a young mice.
If you’re thinking…the chamber of the eye, gross !
The reason, the islets are put inside the eye, is because eyes, make a great nursery for the transplanted islets, they are INSIDE the body i.e. warm and cozy, but hidden away from the immune system of the animal, they’ve been put in.
NOTE : This is why beta cell transplants have not gone mainstream. If a trigger happy immune system had destroyed the natural islets, which is what happens in type 1 diabetics, transplanted cells arrive with a target on their back. Their days are NUMBERED.
Inside the anterior chamber of the eye
From this sanctuary, the beta cells, within the islets can hunker down and do what they do – make insulin, in response to circulating glucose levels.
None of this is new technology…………..what makes this study, “different’, is the age of the islets.
Rescuing diabetic mice
It’s been known for some time, that young islets, successfully rescue mice, that have been made diabetic, thanks to treatment with a beta cell killing “drug”, streptozotocin. Granted, it usually takes them a few days to get into the groove – but once they find their groove, they are able to produce enough insulin, to “cure” the diabetes.
But, our team was using OLD islets.
Remember they weren’t KAPUT, but they weren’t in pristine condition, either.
Would they work ?
Yip. In fact, they worked remarkably well. The results are shown below….
For the old islets, it is a shaky start, but in the end, old islets get it right.
Exciting stuff !
The beta cells are NOT irreparably broken.
For human oldies, facing glucose tolerance issues – THIS IS GOOD NEWS !
This study hints, that all those old islets need, is a little TLC, to find their groove….
Beta cells find their groove
Our team had a hunch, the TLC the islets needed, was a blood vessel upgrade. Something that seamlessly happens, in young animals, but often gets bogged down, in the aged.
When the team looked at the transplanted islets, it was clear…….the islets had expanded.
This is the photo of the same graft, taken at 3 months and then again, 9 months. The little asterix marks the position of the pupil.
Now this expansion was accompanied by the refurbishment of the blood vessels.
The little squiggles, show the blood vessels.
Both the density and the diameters of the blood vessels improved.
Better plumbing means better beta cells
The TLC, provided by the eye chamber, involved an improved blood supply, hinting “good” beta cell function, hinges on a good blood supply.
If your beta cells, are struggling, there’s a good chance, their blood supply is poor.
What can you do, if anything, to help them ?
Rejuvenating blood vessels is an option
Sounds kind of hard………but, it is not, blood vessels are continuously being remodelled. Even in oldies !
You just need to create the “right” signals.
The process of making NEW blood vessels, from existing capillary beds, is called angiogenesis. It is a tightly orchestrated process, which involves
- endothelial cell proliferation,
- invasion, and
- new tube formation.
Now there are half a dozen signals – telling the cells that line the blood vessels, “what to do”.
But, the process is first and foremost – DEMAND driven.
Where cells DEMAND oxygen, blood vessel appear.
So………… if you can drive up demand, you can remodel blood vessels.
The good news
You can drive up demand, with a serious session of pushing and pulling, at the gym.
If pushing and pulling, is beyond, you……….it can be “hacked”.
Watch this video on Remote ischemic preconditioning, RIPre for short. The focus of this video, is on helping the heart, but what works for the heart, will work for beta cells, too.
Any strategy that “gets the blood flowing” – will help, your beta cells, get THEIR GROOVE ON.
Sitting stops leg blood flow, but if you fidget, you can improve blood flow- it turns out, tiny muscle contractions are better than NO, muscle contractions.
Insulin needs wide blood vessels to work, but widening blood vessels causes blood pressure to drop – the carotid body, keeps things in balance. Hopefully.
Your blood pressure is UP. Your instinct says, this CAN be fixed, with a little sun, sea and surf. You’re half right. All you need is the sun, to distress