Disorder of the internal clock causes diabetes

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Diabetes research: If the biological clock of the pancreas is no longer intact, a diabetes disease is triggered.

(06/20/2010) The biological clock of the pancreas is fundamental for the production of the hormone insulin. If this is disturbed, diabetes is triggered. At least that is what scientists at "Northwestern University" in Chicago have found on the basis of scientific studies.

The biological clock in the pancreas regulates the production of the body's hormone insulin. If this gets out of sync, a diabetes disease develops. Type II diabetes has long become a "widespread disease" in the western industrialized countries. In the United States alone, well over 23 million people have diabetes; in Germany, according to the latest estimates, there are around 5 million people with diabetes.

In the scientific research work, animal experiments were carried out with mice. The genes of the animals that are responsible for the biological clock in the production of the hormone insulin were switched off. The biological clock of humans regulates the storage of energy and its utilization in a so-called "cyclical rhythm". The body orients itself to external events such as day and night. In the industrialized countries, this is getting out of step, for example due to the increase in shift work or artificial light in offices. The "internal clock" is regulated in the human brain by the "suprachiasmatic nucleus". Such "clocks" are not only found in the brain, but can also be found in other parts of the human body. Biological clocks also exist in organs such as the liver, lungs, heart and also in the pancreas.

The US researchers have now been able to prove for the first time that an internal clock in the pancreas regulates the release of insulin. Insulin is responsible for lowering blood sugar levels when people have a high carbohydrate diet. However, the release of the hormone is also carried out in a certain rhythm, which is independent of the food supply. The system, known as the "clock", regulates the rhythmic interplay of genes and proteins that are connected with the regulation of the hormone insulin. If this system is now disrupted, the release of insulin is also disrupted. In the laboratory tests, the scientists were able to observe a very low insulin level if this rhythmic system was disturbed. After a short time the mice developed diabetes. "It is the first time that a connection has been made between the internal biological clock and the development of diabetes." according to study director Dr. Joseph Bass from Northwestern University. The results will help to better understand the regulation of the hormone. But there is still a lot of research that needs to be done to "better understand the reasons for sugar disorders", said Dr. Bass. All results of the study are published in the scientific journal "Nature". The pre-release has been published under "doi: 10.1038 / nature09253". (sb)

Also read:
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Marco Barnebeck / pixelio.de.

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