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Archive - Mar 16, 2012

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Cell Signaling Pathway May Play Key Role in Gestational Diabetes

AResearchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have identified a cell signaling pathway that plays a key role in increasing insulin secretion during pregnancy and, when blocked, leads to the development of gestational diabetes. Their findings were published online on March 16, 2012 in Diabetes, one of the journals of the American Diabetes Association. During pregnancy, pancreatic beta cells should expand and produce more insulin to adapt to the needs of the growing baby, explained senior investigator Adolfo Garcia-Ocana, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Pitt School of Medicine. Newborns can suffer complications if the mother's blood glucose is abnormally high during pregnancy, a condition known as gestational diabetes. "Not much was known about the maternal mechanisms that lead to increased beta cell number and function during pregnancy," Dr. Garcia-Ocana said. "But research has shown that high blood glucose in pregnancy can have long-term health consequences for the child, as well as a greater risk of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol for the mother." His team began studying a protein called hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), which was discovered by George K. Michalopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair, Department of Pathology, Pitt School of Medicine, in 1990. Blood levels of HGF are markedly increased in pregnancy. The protein interacts with a cell-surface receptor called c-MET. The researchers engineered mice that lacked the c-MET receptor in pancreatic cells and found that their beta cells functioned correctly, keeping blood glucose within normal parameters in adult mice. But when the mice got pregnant, they took on the features of gestational diabetes.

New Psoriasis Treatment May Prevent Heart Attacks and Strokes

A clinical study co-led by the Montreal Heart Institute and Innovaderm Research Inc., which was presented March 16, 2012 at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology, shows that a new treatment for psoriasis could be associated with a significant decrease in vascular inflammation, a major risk factor of cardiovascular disease. Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the skin and joints that affects up to 3% of the population. This disease is associated with a greater risk of heart attack (infarction) and stroke. The goal of this clinical study was to show that a treatment to reduce skin inflammation in psoriasis patients could be associated with a decrease in vascular inflammation. The study had positive results, as vascular inflammation decreased significantly in patients suffering from psoriasis who were treated with adalimumab, a biological anti-inflammatory compound. The study also showed a 51% decrease in C-reactive protein among patients treated with adalimumab compared to a 2% decrease among patients in the control group. These results are significant, as a high level of C-reactive protein is known to be associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. In relation to the treatment of psoriasis, 70% of patients who received the compound presented with a major decrease in skin lesion severity, compared to 20% of patients in the control group. According to Dr.