Diabetes for Researchers

Pathogenesis study based on high throughput single-cell sequencing analysis reveals novel transcriptional landscape and heterogeneity of retinal cells in type 2 diabetic mice

Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is the leading cause of acquired blindness in middle-aged people. The complex pathology of DR is difficult to dissect, given the convoluted cytoarchitecture of the retina. Here, we performed single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) of retina from type 2 diabetic model induced in leptin receptor-deficient (db/db) and control db/m mice with the aim of elucidating the factors mediating the pathogenesis of DR. We identified eleven cell types and determined cell type-specific expression of DR-associated loci via genome-wide association study-based enrichment analysis. DR also impacted cell type-specific genes and altered cell-cell communication. Based on the scRNA-seq results, retinaldehyde-binding protein 1 (RLBP1) was investigated as a promising therapeutic target for DR. Retinal RLBP1 expression was decreased in diabetes, and its overexpression in Müller glia mitigated DR-associated neurovascular degeneration. These data provide a detailed analysis of the retina under diabetic and normal conditions, revealing new insights into pathogenic factors that may be targeted to treat DR and related dysfunctions.

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Unique human and mouse {beta}-cell senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP) reveal conserved signaling pathways and heterogeneous factors

The aging of pancreatic β-cells may undermine their ability to compensate for insulin resistance, leading to the development of type 2 diabetes (T2D). Aging β-cells acquire markers of cellular senescence and develop a senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP) that can lead to senescence and dysfunction of neighboring cells through paracrine actions, contributing to β-cell failure. Herein, we defined the β-cell SASP signature based on unbiased proteomic analysis of conditioned media of cells obtained from mouse and human senescent β-cells and a chemically-induced mouse model of DNA damage capable of inducing SASP. These experiments revealed that the β-cell SASP is enriched for factors associated with inflammation, cellular stress response, and extracellular matrix remodeling across species. Multiple SASP factors were transcriptionally upregulated in models of β-cell senescence, aging, insulin resistance and T2D. Single-cell transcriptomic analysis of islets from an in vivo mouse model of reversible insulin resistance indicated unique and partly reversible changes in β-cell subpopulations associated with senescence. Collectively, these results demonstrate the unique secretory profile of senescent β-cells and its potential implication in health and disease.

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Effects of Gastric Bypass Surgery on the Brain; Simultaneous Assessment of Glucose Uptake, Blood Flow, Neural Activity and Cognitive Function during Normo- and Hypoglycemia

While Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass (RYGB) surgery in obese individuals typically improves glycemic control and prevents diabetes, it also frequently causes hypoglycemia. Previous work showed attenuated counter-regulatory responses following RYGB. The underlying mechanisms as well as the clinical consequences are unclear.

In this study, 11 non-diabetic subjects with severe obesity were investigated pre- and post-RYGB during hyperinsulinemic hypoglycemic clamps. Assessments were made of hormones, cognitive function, cerebral blood flow by arterial spin labeling, brain glucose metabolism by FDG PET and activation of brain networks by functional MRI. Post- vs pre-surgery, we found a general increase of cerebral blood flow but a decrease of total brain FDG uptake during normoglycemia. During hypoglycemia, there was a marked increase in total brain FDG uptake and this was similar for post- and pre-surgery, whereas hypothalamic FDG uptake was reduced. During hypoglycemia, attenuated responses of counterregulatory hormones and improvements in cognitive function were seen post-surgery. In early hypoglycemia, there was increased activation post- vs pre-surgery of neural networks in CNS regions implicated in glucose regulation such as the thalamus and hypothalamus. The results suggest adaptive responses of the brain that contribute to lowering of glycemia following RYGB, and the underlying mechanisms should be further elucidated.

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Low-dose ATG/GCSF in Established Type 1 Diabetes: A Five-Year Follow-up Report

Previously, we demonstrated low-dose anti-thymocyte globulin (ATG) and granulocyte colony stimulating factor (GCSF) immunotherapy preserved C-peptide for two years in a pilot study of subjects with established type 1 diabetes (n=25). Herein, we evaluated the long-term outcomes of ATG/GCSF in study participants with five years of available follow-up data (n=15). The primary endpoint was area under the curve (AUC) C-peptide during a two-hour mixed-meal tolerance test (MMTT). After five years, there were no statistically significant differences in AUC C-peptide when comparing subjects who received ATG/GCSF versus placebo (p = 0.41). A modeling framework based on mean trajectories in C-peptide AUC over five years, accounting for differing trends between groups, was applied to re-categorize responders (n=9) and non-responders (n=7). ATG/GCSF reponders demonstrated nearly unchanged HbA1c over five years [mean (95% CI) adjusted change = 0.29% (-0.69%, 1.27%)], but the study was not powered for comparisons against non-responders 1.75% (-0.57%, 4.06%) and placebo 1.44% (0.21%, 2.66%). These data underscore the importance of long-term follow up in previous and ongoing phase 2 trials of low-dose ATG in recent-onset type 1 diabetes.

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The Relationship Between Glycaemia, Cognitive Function, Structural Brain Outcomes and Dementia: A Mendelian Randomisation Study in the UK Biobank

We investigated the relationship between glycaemia and cognitive function, brain structure and incident dementia using bidirectional Mendelian randomisation (MR). Data were from UK Biobank (n~500,000). Our exposures were genetic instruments for type-2 diabetes (157 variants) and HbA1c (51 variants) and our outcomes were reaction time (RT), visual memory, hippocampal and white matter hyperintensity volumes, Alzheimer’s dementia (AD). We also investigated associations between genetic variants for RT (43 variants) and, diabetes and HbA1c. We used conventional inverse-variance weighted (IVW) MR, alongside MR sensitivity analyses. Using IVW, genetic liability to type-2 diabetes was not associated with reaction time (exponentiated ß=1.00, 95%CI=1.00; 1.00), visual memory (expß=1.00, 95%CI=0.99; 1.00), white matter hyperintensity volume (WMHV) (expß=0.99, 95%CI=0.97; 1.01), hippocampal volume (HV) (ß coefficient mm3=4.56, 95%CI=-3.98; 13.09) or AD (OR 0.89, 95%CI=0.78; 1.01). HbA1c was not associated with RT (expß=1.01, 95%CI=1.00; 1.01), WMHV (expß=0.94, 95%CI=0.81; 1.08), HV (ß=7.21, 95%CI=-54.06; 68.48), or risk of AD (OR 0.94, 95%CI=0.47; 1.86), but HbA1c was associated with visual memory (expß=1.06, 95%CI=1.05; 1.07) using a weighted median. IVW showed that reaction time was not associated with diabetes risk (OR 0.96, 95%CI=0.63; 1.46) or with HbA1c (ß coefficient mmol/mol=-0.08, 95%CI=-0.57; 0.42). Overall, we observed little evidence of causal association between genetic instruments for T2D or peripheral glycaemia and some measures of cognition and brain structure in midlife.

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