Researchers from the University of Lund, Sweden, have made two new discoveries related to the ability of beta cells to release insulin. These findings may also provide a possible explanation why smokers have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
The study was conducted on mice and human beta cell donations, and is currently published in the scientific journal Cell Reports.
Researchers have found that what is called nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nicotine-sensitive), affects the release of normal insulin. They also show that certain genetic changes make dysfunctional nicotine, thus affecting the number of functional nicotine-sensitive receptors found in beta cells. Reduced number of functional receptors leads to decreased insulin secretion, thus increasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
“Receptors in beta cells that stimulate insulin release are usually activated by signaling acetylcholine compounds, but they can also be activated with nicotine. The importance of nicotine-sensitive receptors has not previously been proven in terms of beta cell function. Our research shows that people with this lack of receptors are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, “said Isabella Artner, a researcher at Lund University, who is responsible for the study.
Isabella Artner and her colleagues also found that the Mafa gene (muscoloaponeurotic fibrosacoma oncogene family A) is found in insulin-producing beta cells, controlling the number of nicotine-sensitive receptors and thus their ability to receive signals from the central nervous system.
“The effect of a single gene, Mafa, itself on previously unknown insulin secretion, and nicotine receptors has never been linked to type 2 diabetes,” said Isabella Artner.
“We know that smokers have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, but the reason why it happens is unclear. Maybe it has something to do with the nicotine-sensitive receptor we describe. Our findings add knowledge about the relationship between smoking and type 2 diabetes, “continued Isabella Artner, as reported by Lund University (08/03/2016).
Elvira Ganic, Tania Singh, Cheng Luan, João Fadista, Jenny K. Johansson, Holly Ann Cyphert, Hedvig Bennet, Petter Storm, Gaëlle Prost, Henrik Ahlenius, Erik Renström, Roland Stein, Leif Groop, Malin Fex, Isabella Artner. MafA-Controlled Nicotinic Receptor Expression Is Essential for Insulin Secretion and Is Impaired in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes. Cell Reports, 2016; 14 (8): 1991 DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.02.002.