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US researchers have identified an enzyme that may explain the reason why people with diabetes are at especially high risk of developing severe illness or dying from coronavirus infection. The culprit appears to be an enzyme called SETDB2. This same enzyme has been implicated in the non-healing, inflammatory wounds found in people with diabetes. Starting with a mouse model of coronavirus infection, they found that SETDB2 was decreased in immune cells involved in the inflammatory response, called macrophages, of infected mice with diabetes. The same thing was observed in monocyte-macrophages in the blood from people with diabetes and severe Covid-19. "We think we have a reason for why these patients are developing a cytokine storm," said researcher W. James Melvin from University of Michigan.
In the mouse and human models, the team found that as SETDB2 went down, inflammation went up. In addition, a pathway known as JAK1/STAT3 was found to regulate SETDB2 in macrophages during coronavirus infection. Taken together, the results point to a potential therapeutic pathway. Further, previous findings demonstrated that interferon -- a cytokine important for viral immunity -- increased SETDB2 in response to wound healing. In the new study, the team found blood serum from patients in the ICU with diabetes and severe Covid-19 had reduced levels of interferon-beta compared to patients without diabetes.
"Our research is showing that maybe if we are able to target patients with diabetes with interferon, especially early in their infection, that may actually make a big difference," Melvin said. Photo by Diabetesmagazijn.nl on Unsplash
To test this, the study team administered interferon beta to coronavirus-infected diabetic mice and saw that they were able to increase SETDB2 and decrease inflammatory cytokines. "We're trying to home in on what controls SETDB2, which is sort of the master regulator of a lot of these inflammatory cytokines that you hear about as being increased in Covid-19, such as IL-1B, TNFalpha, and IL-6,a explained Katherine Gallagher, from Michigan Medicine. This is important, she added, because identifying the pathway presents other potential ways of targeting the enzyme. "Our research is showing that maybe if we are able to target patients with diabetes with interferon, especially early in their infection, that may actually make a big difference," Melvin said. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: diabetes, risk, covid, survey, immunity
Supplementing testosterone significantly reduces heart attacks and strokes in men with unnaturally low levels of the hormone, a new study suggests.
The study, presented at the European Association of Urology Congress, indicated that the health of the men on testosterone therapy also improved by other measures.
They lost weight, had more lean muscle mass, their cholesterol level and liver function improved, their diabetes was better controlled and their blood pressure dropped.
"While men need testosterone for certain psychological and biological functions, only those with low levels who display other symptoms are likely to benefit from testosterone therapy.
"For those at high risk of heart attack and stroke, who are deficient in testosterone, bringing the hormone back to normal levels likely helps them to maximise the benefits of other steps necessary to improve their overall health," the study said.
For the study, the team included over 800 men with testosterone deficiency, whose family history, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, diabetes or weight put them at high risk of heart attack or stroke.
Only men with testosterone levels below normal, who also displayed symptoms of low testosterone, such as low mood, decreased appetite, depression, erectile dysfunction, loss of libido or weight gain, were included in the research.
Just over half of the men opted for long-term testosterone replacement therapy, enabling the researchers to compare this group to those whose condition was left untreated.
All the men were encouraged to make lifestyle changes, in terms of diet, alcohol, smoking and exercise, to improve their cardiovascular health.
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Of 412 men on testosterone therapy, 16 died and none suffered a heart attack or stroke, the study said.
Of the 393 men who chose not to take testosterone supplements, 74 died, 70 had a heart attack and 59 suffered a stroke. (IANS/AD)
Eating almonds twice a day can help improve glucose metabolism as well as keep cholesterol levels in check, suggests a study. The study showed that almond consumption can improve blood sugar levels at the pre-diabetes stage, which may help prevent or delay the development of diabetes. In addition, almond consumption also reduced total cholesterol and ace bad" LDL-cholesterol significantly compared to the control group while maintaining "good" HDL-cholesterol levels.
"Lifestyle changes including improved nutrition and exercise targeted at teens and young adults have the potential to halt the progression from prediabetes to Type-2 diabetes. Results from this study show that the change does not have to be a major one -- simply including a twice-daily snack of almonds can make a difference," said principal investigator Jagmeet Madan, Professor, and Principal at Sir Vithaldis Thackersey College of Home Science in Mumbai. "The study results are very promising in showing how almonds improved total and LDL-cholesterol levels and reduced HbA1c levels in just 12 weeks of consumption," Madan added.
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For the study, the team included 275 participants (59 male, 216 female) with impaired glucose metabolism (prediabetes). The almond group ate 56 grams (about 2 one-ounce servings, or nearly 340 calories) of unroasted almonds every day for three months and the control group consumed a savory snack made using whole wheat flour, chickpea flour, salt, and Indian spices, with the same number of calories.
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Both the almond and savory snacks accounted for nearly 20 percent of participants' total calorie intake. In the almond group, HbA1c -- a measure of long-term blood sugar control that also serves as a diagnostic criterion for prediabetes and diabetes -- decreased significantly compared to the control group. There was a decrease in the fasting blood glucose in the almond group in comparison to the control group but was not statistically significant. (IANS/JC)
Diabetes is a chronic disease that develops when the body does not produce enough insulin or cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Diabetics have abnormally high blood sugar levels, which if left untreated can lead to serious health problems, including foot ulcers, blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, and stroke.
Jean Lawrence studies diabetes at Kaiser Permanente, a large health care organization. She looked at the medical records of a racially and ethnically diverse group of women in southern California who became pregnant between 1999 and 2005. "We studied about 175,000 teenage and adult women," says Lawrence, "and examined whether or not they had diabetes before pregnancy, or whether they developed gestational diabetes during their pregnancy." Gestational diabetes is usually a temporary condition that goes away after a mother gives birth.
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The researchers found that the proportion of women who developed gestational diabetes remained relatively constant throughout the study period, at about seven and a half percent. But, Lawrence notes, the proportion of women who had diabetes before they became pregnant doubled over the course of the study, reaching almost two percent. "The increase we see was observed in all of the racial and ethnic groups," she says.
But Lawrence qualifies that African American women in the study had the highest prevalence of diabetes before pregnancy, followed by Hispanic women, then Asian and Pacific Islander women, and then Caucasian women. "It's not surprising that African Americans seem to have the highest burden of diabetes before pregnancy because they also have a very high burden of diabetes in general in the population," she explains.
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Lawrence emphasizes that more young women of all races are entering their reproductive years with diabetes, especially what's known as Type 2 diabetes. Usually caused by lifestyle factors such as poor diet, obesity, and a lack of exercise, it used to develop mostly in adulthood and fact was called "adult-onset" diabetes. "But now what we're seeing is that youth are developing Type 2 diabetes as young as age 10," she says. Lawrence attributes the change to an increased prevalence of obesity in children and people of all ages in the general population.
Lawrence stresses that women should work with a doctor to control their diabetes before becoming pregnant. High blood sugar early in pregnancy can result in miscarriage, stillbirths, and birth defects. "As we know in the U.S., about half the pregnancies are unplanned or unintended," says Lawrence. "So the take-home message is that all women need to plan their pregnancies." But in this case, she stresses, "It's exponentially important for women with diabetes to plan their pregnancies so that they can work on making sure their diabetes is in good control and they are healthy before becoming pregnant." (VOA/JC)