Mouse study points to a particular T cell target for diabetes, insulin resistance

Investigators at Baylor College of Medicine say that new animal research indicates that a certain type of T cell found in the immune system could be a good target for drug developers spotlighting Type 2 diabetes triggered by obesity as well as insulin resistance.

The target is the γδ (gamma delta) T cell. These T cells are necessary for the accumulation of macrophages which in turn are linked with inflammation in fat tissue believed to play a role in developing diabetes--a huge health problem around the world.

Researchers interested in pursuing the idea that obesity-induced diabetes is an inflammatory disease developed a line of mice without γδ T cells and pitted them against a group of normal rodents, feeding both groups a high-fat, high-sugar Western diet.

"Results showed that γδ T cells contribute to systemic insulin resistance in obese mice, which opens up new avenues for studies in obese humans," said Pooja Mehta, a researcher involved in the work from the Department of Pathology and Immunology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. "This study also provides new information about the complex interplay of immune cells, in the fat tissue, during obesity."

The normal mice developed low-grade inflammation in adipose tissue, liver and skeletal muscle, the investigators reported while tracking reduced inflammation in the γδ T-cell deficient mice. The T cell models also demonstrated less insulin resistance.

"The more we learn about obesity, the more we realize that an intimate connection exists between adipose tissue, inflammation and the immune system," said John Wherry, deputy editor of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology.

The research report was published in the January 2015 issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology.

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